Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Title: Between the Lines
Author: Jodi Picoult, Samantha van Leer
Series: None
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books/Atria/Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 26, 2012
ISBN13:  9781451635751
Format: hardcover
Genre: YA, urban fantasy, romance, contemporary
Source: borrowed from library
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter present their first ever novel for teens, filled with romance, adventure, and humor.

What happens when happily ever after . . . isn't?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book - one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He's a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He's sure that there's more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

Between the Lines is a story, part contemporary, part fairytale, about a girl, who starts loving a character the way that the rest of us reader would start obsessing over, say, Noah of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, or whether we were Team Zachary or Team Logan from the Shade trilogy. Turns out, that particular character can communicate with her, and wants to get out of the story and into the real world.

The only book I've read by Jodi Picoult is My Sister's Keeper, and only at the insistence of a very close friend. While that book made me cry, laugh, and cheer on every one of the characters, I didn't go hunt down the rest of her books to satisfy my cravings for some odd reason that might include me being an idiot. And suddenly, one day I find this and decide, "Hey, why not?" To be honest, I was expecting the sort of book that'd wrench my guts out like My Sister's Keeper did, but this book wasn't like that. It was bubbly, sweet, and though a very enjoyable book, it didn't pack the punch I thought it would.

Between the Lines proposed a very interesting concept. Book characters are basically actors who have a life outside the storyline. It kind of made me rethink things, like "What if President Snow is actually an anti-child abuse advocate?" or "Imagine if Voldemort actually works as a baker who likes making tarts and cookies for the Hogwarts students." Thumbs up for creativity.

The story is told from three different viewpoints. Delilah, Oliver, and the Between the Lines story Delilah loves so much. Their voices were all very well written; Delilah with her teenage girl feel, Oliver with that guy but slightly old-school voice, and the fairytale style of the storybook. The formatting of the story is quite interesting. Since the story rotates with the three different PoVs, it starts with a hand-drawn scene from the storybook that's beautifully drawn, and with Delilah and Oliver's chapters in different fonts and colours, and even more little images to go along. It made reading it . . . fun. In this strange way. Like you're reading a picture book for teenagers.

The plot was quite straightforward, so I didn't get confused even with the alternating PoVs. The problem laid with the ending. The book suddenly introduced Edgar, who turned out to be this huge game-changer, in only the last fifty pages. The way the conflict ended was quite interesting, and while I thought it was really cool, the story closed on a fairly odd note. While the storyline wasn't bad, I felt like there could've been more of Delilah and her life, including more with her relationship with her mother, in the place of her chatting with Oliver through the book.

How the setting was injected into the story was fantastic. The settings itself was already not just real in Delilah's world, but also with the fairytale charm of Oliver's. Descriptions of it were placed subtly throughout the chapters, and while showed you their surroundings, it didn't overwhelm you and take away from the story itself.

Delilah is a tomboy. And not afraid to tell Oliver off, even though she is a bit obsessed with him. She's easy to imagine as a person in real life. What I didn't like about her was how she dropped everything in her life to be with something that could've been only a figment of her imagination. She started to ignore her BFF, Jules, who forgave her a little bit too quickly, her mother, and her life in general for a few more moments with Oliver's story.

Oliver himself is like the poster boy for prince, or at the very least, gentleman. He's handsome, courteous, kind etc. But he's also a bit selfish, like when Highlight to show spoiler he put Delilah into the story with him. In the end, he did apologize profusely for not thinking about his actions before doing that. Another thing I was a bit bothered by was his relationship with Seraphima. Because in the fairytale Seraphima's hopelessly in love with Oliver, she believes she has to be like that out of the story. But you can clearly see how she's not in love with Oliver, but instead her idea of living the fairytale. And Oliver, feeling sorry for her, doesn't break up with her straight out. Doesn't that sound familiar? That's really just a ticking time bomb waiting for Delilah to come along and blow it up.

While there were quite a lot of things I had problems with in the book, I still enjoyed it very much, so you wouldn't see me giving a two-star to this one. It's classified as a YA novel, but I would have no problem recommending it to a middle-grade reader, since it's a very clean and light read. No heavy topics or lusty scenes here. I'd recommend it to someone looking for something casual contemporary.

Gasp! I can't name any, this book is so unique!
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