Between The Lines and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Genre: Contemporary, Fairytale, Romance
Published by: Hodder
Pages: 351 | 372
I’ve been wanting read these two books since I stumbled across them on Goodreads, via recommended books and realised they’d be exactly the thing I needed to rekindle my love for the Inkheart series without having to read Inkheart for the sixteenth time! Reading characters out of books has always fascinated me since reading Cornelia Funke’s masterpiece, and I really liked the idea of a mother-daughter writing duo dealing with the relationships formed between real people and fictional characters. Basically, this book is a fangirl’s dream come true, and it certainly read like a fairy tale!
P L O T
This duology is the story of a girl, Delilah, who reads a middle grade fairy tale and falls in love with the male protagonist, Oliver, who she realises she can communicate with whenever the book is open. Oliver is an actor who lives in a world of repetition where he has to repeat the story over and over again every time someone opens the pages. He sees Delilah, the first girl to realise that something exists outside of the story, and falls in love with her. So, requited love is all fun and games until your boyfriend is fictional. Between the Lines tells the story of Oliver attempting to make it out of the story and into the real world, while Off the Page deals with the consequences of Oliver pretending to be Edgar, and characters and people getting sucked into the story left, right and centre. It’s kind of a mess, but in the end, it all works out happily ever after.!
In Between the Lines, the story is told in three different ways: the actual fairy tale Oliver exists in, Oliver’s perspective when he’s not acting out the story, and Delilah’s perspective, dealing with her obsession over Oliver and how to get him out without killing him in the process. It’s very quirky, and the different segments make it easy to fly through.
In Off the Page, there are still three perspectives, but this time Edgar is added to the mix, the boy who looks identical to Oliver, and took his place in the story book.
C H A R A C T E R S
Oliver – He’s so dreamy, you can understand why Delilah falls head over heels for him. Who doesn’t want their own Prince Charming? I really enjoyed his determination and the sincerity of his feelings towards Delilah, although he couldn’t help but read a little cheesy sometimes! I guess that comes with the fairy tale territory.
Delilah – For me, she was like a Meg Cabot character: a teenage girl consumed with teenage girl problems, like falling out with a best friend, and sabotaging the most popular girl at school, while also dealing with something a lot bigger than herself, like falling in love with someone…fictional. I really sympathised with her when the world thought she was crazy, but thought she could have done better communicating, without looking like a loon in front of everyone else! Also, her quest to free Oliver put everything else on pause, so I thought her character was pretty two dimensional in Between the Lines.
Edgar – Although he may look like Oliver, he’s not entirely like him. Dealing with the struggles of falling for Jules and the emotional strain of his mother, Edgar has a lot on his plate, but he’s also the point of contact for all your favourite fairy tale characters from Between the Lines. Seraphima gets a personality, (and some beautiful illustrations) and Frump plays his part to the bitter end.
Jules – I liked how Jules, although she didn’t have a perspective, balanced out the gender representation. She was more accepting and visible in Off The Page, and I loved watching her take the stereotypical role of princess to a completely different level! Every book needs a good best friend character, and Jules fulfils the role completely.
R O M A N C E
If you love the fairy tale, sappy, I’ll love you until the world explodes kind of thing, this is perfect for you. After reading a lot of fairy tale retellings in my time, where love is either dangerous or only lead to sticky situations, it was nice to read a romance that was uncomplicated. You know, apart from the fictional boundaries, of course.
Then in Off the Page, things start to get messy, with Seraphima loving Oliver, then loving Frump, and Edgar pretending to be Oliver and love Delilah when he falls for Jules…it’s all complicated and contrived but know that, no matter how confusing it is to follow who’s in love with who, a happily ever after is always guaranteed.
G E N R E
I definitely think this could be classified as a middle grade book itself. It’s not really young adult, because Delilah doesn’t go on a journey of self discovery, and there’s nothing deeper than the quest for true love behind Between the Lines. While I love to read middle grade as much as YA, because neither genre is better, or superior to the other, to sell these books as ‘in the absence of Twilight, this will be great’ is a misguided decision. This is nowhere near Twilight. This is like Inkheart, a jovial and dark tale of characters living in the human world. Read it with this in mind and I’m sure you’ll appreciate it more!
V E R D I C T
I’m going to give the both books 3.5 stars. They were enjoyable, fun and pulled you right into the drama…almost literally! If you love fairy tale romances, or have ever fallen in love with someone on the page, this is definitely a book you’ll enjoy!