Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
|Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A storybook prince tries to navigate love and life in a modern-day high school, but his book has other ideas...|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 375||Date: May 2015|
|Publisher: Random House|
|External links: Author's website|
Many readers can identify with the idea of falling in love with a hero from a book. After all, they are written to be appealing, with rugged good looks, charming personality, strength and wit. But what if the hero from your favourite book came to life and joined you in the real world? Can a storybook romance flourish in a High School setting? Or will our fairytale prince be keen to return to his homeland of unicorns, fairies, castles and mermaids? These are the dilemmas faced by awkward teen Delilah and her fantasy prince Oliver, who swaps places with a human boy in order to join his true love in the real world. The lovers may be together for now, but the book has other ideas, and soon begins rewriting itself to put everything back to how it was.
Fans of Enchanted and Once Upon a Time will be familiar with the fish-out-of-water concept of a fairytale character stuck in the modern world and indeed, there is much humour to be had from this scenario. Oliver is so used to life in 2D, that he views everything as magical and wonderful. His optimistic personality makes him a warm and likeable character, with everyday situations from attending classes to working a washing machine potential disaster zones. In addition to this, he has to convince his 'mother' Jessamyn, that he is her son Edgar, the boy who replaced him in the story. Edgar, meantime, is having troubles of his own. The book is rejecting his sci-fi retelling of the fairytale, reverting the characters to their original types and sending messages to Oliver to return. Edgar feels bored and homesick, but to return to the real world would mean breaking up Delilah and Oliver and destroying their happy-ever-after.
The book-world is well written and has its own dynamics and laws of physics. Letters hang in the sky like clouds and the characters can bound across pages to reach different locations. The characters are like actors in a play, waiting to perform when the reader opens the book. When the book is closed, they have their own lives, so long as they remain within the confines of the pages. The book is also beautifully illustrated with captivating, detailed drawings. It's quite easy to imagine one of them coming to life, just as it did in the story.
Unfortunately, the real world depicted in the book isn't nearly as cleverly written as the fantasy one. The school is populated by stock stereotypes: the blonde queen-bee and her entourage, the Goth best friend, the geeks...Is every American High school like this, or just the ones we see in the movies? Delilah, the heroine, is an uninteresting character and seems to serve solely as a love interest for Oliver. She pines, she sulks, she clings, she groans, but we don't get to learn anything about her, other than the fact that she really loves her man. This created something of an unequal pairing and although they were clearly attracted to each other, it was difficult to see why.
The story is humorous and exciting with lots of unpredictable plot twists. Some of the subject matter was quite deep, but the sadness was balanced by the more humorous moments. I'm not sure who the precise target audience is, as it does read like a children's book, but contains some adult references. My pre-teen daughter is keen to read it, but I think some of the scenes between Oliver and Delilah are a bit too intense for younger readers.
I really enjoyed the book and although it works well as a standalone novel, readers may wish to read Between the Lines to see how Oliver and Delilah first met.
You can read more book reviews or buy Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer at Amazon.com.
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