Infact, the idea kind of scared me away. How can an entire novel be written in verse? Methought it was perhaps for the ones more poetically inclined. Don’t get me wrong. I love poetry (it’s what got me into this whole writing thing), but I was confused as to how I’d feel about reading a novel in verse.
But verse novels are becoming increasingly popular. I’d put it on the fact that readers are more open to experimental writing forms now. With writers like Lisa Schroeder and Ellen Hopkins, who dabble in verse novels alone, it’s found a steady fan-base in the YA market as well.
I’ve been curious about the whole deal about verse novels. I’ve been wondering about lots of things – do characters have normal conversations in verse novels? Do the feelings conveyed always have to be ‘poetic’? How are details explained in such little verses? etc.
All that was until I read Samantha Schutz‘s You Are Not Here, which was a lovely gift from Melissa Walker, at a very difficult period of my life. You Are Not Here is the story of a girl grieving the death of the boy she shared an indefinable relationship with and it is told in stunning, haunting verses. It’s such a beautiful book, re-reading it acts as a sort of therapy. This was my first full-length verse novel, and guess what, I’m a total fangirl now. All that confusion and doubt, they don’t stand a chance, ’cause, verse novels despite their brevity convey so much in so little.
From Samantha Schutz, I shall move on to Lisa Schroeder (her books look and sound lovely!) and Ellen Hopkins (Her books sound just my thing) and explore this whole new territory, ’cause now I’m hooked.
Besides full length verse novels, there are novels which do sprinkle verses throughout them but keep the balance between prose and poetry. The first name that comes to mind? Angela Morrison. Her Taken By Storm trilogy (Taken By Storm, Unbroken Connection, Cayman Summer) tell the story of Leesie and Michael. The unique element? Leesie’s PoV is told in verse, while Michael’s PoV is expressed via his dive journal entries. This same writing technique is applied throughout the three books.
Verses do not just add a ‘poetic’ element to the book. Their sole purpose is not to be merely beautiful or decorative. In Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere, Lennie’s verses do not just sing about her grief but also give a glimpse of the past she shared with the sister who is no longer there. Denise Jaden’s Losing Faith has been said to have employed a similar technique.
No, verse novels are probably not for everyone, but they have a fan-base that swears by them. For me, in spite of the questions that might have crossed my mind, it isn’t so much about what kind of a novel it is, but about the story it tells me. All these books, in spite of their differences, tell us the human story. Each in itself is a study of human relationships and these are the relationships that I want to understand. This is why I read.
And this is why I shall continue to read forever and ever.
And someday, I hope I can write a verse novel too. For the life of me, I can’t understand how talented these writers are to say so much in so little words. But a verse (or semi-verse) novel now definitely falls into the dream bag.
What do you think about verse novels? What are some of your favourites?
I’m expanding my list. So tell me.