At tor.com, this post: 12 SFF Stories Told From Second-Person Perspective
Interesting! I have to be in just the right mood to want to read something in second person … it is such a self-conscious mode! It screams: Pay attention to the craft of this story! Do not even think about being emotionally engaged! Emotional engagement is not the point! Or so it seems to me, at least.
Twelve! That’s a long list for this particular category of SFF stories. Let’s just take a look …
1.Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.
2. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie — oh, yes, I remember now, starting this book and thinking OH NO and closing it again.
“I first saw you when you rode out of the forest, past the cluster of tall, bulge-eyed offering stakes, your horse at a walk. You rode beside Mawat …”
I believe that’s as far as I got. Not in the mood! Do not know when I will be in the mood, if ever.
Would you call that second person, though? I’d call that … what? … interior monologue first person. It’s still incredibly contrived and self-conscious.
3. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
4. “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods” by Maria Dahvana Headley — this is a short story. A shorter form that’s using second person is MUCH more approachable for me than a novel. I’m much more willing to put up with the form if I know going in that the story is not that big a commitment.
5. Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North — oh, now, that’s just cheating. This is a fun choose-your-own-adventure . . . thing. Book. Book-like thing. Not a novel or a story. Lots of tiny little stories embedded in this . . . thing. Fun, though.
6. Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin
7. The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
8. The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera — I have this one on my TBR shelves. Hmm. It says here that most of the novel, or a large part of it, is in the form of a letter someone is reading, so … let me see … okay, like this:
Shizuka, my Shizuka. If Grandmother Sky is good, this finds you sitting on your throne, eating far too many sweets, and complaining about all the meetings you must attend.
My apologies for the awful calligraphy. I know you are shaking your head even as you read this, saying something about my brushstrokes not being decisive enough.
That starts a few pages from the actual beginning of the story. Actually . . . this is a good technique. At least, for me it seems to counter some of the immediate recoil I otherwise experience when faced with second person, or monologue first person addressed to the reader, or whatever you’d call this. The point is, the conceit of putting the story into a letter that’s read after the fact does work better for me than not having this kind of framing. Interesting! I didn’t realize adding a frame would help me accept this style, but apparently it might.
Let’s see, what else —
9. This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar
10. Redshirts by John Scalzi — the codas at the end. True. I’d forgotten about those.
11. Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer
12. You by Austin Grossman
A few of these sound sort of interesting. I’ve heard a lot about the Gladstone/El-Mohtar book, but (a) time travel is somewhat to moderately repellent to me as a trope, and now (b) self-conscious choices of second-person or second-person-adjacent styles are moderately to very repellent as a style, so … if any of you have read this book and love it, let me know. Otherwise no matter how much people rave about it, I’m unlikely to try it myself.