Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Smantha Van Leer

Summary from Goodreads:
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 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.
So, I read this one really quickly. Who hasn’t dreamed about fictional characters being real? I feel like there are so many retellings of fairy tales and Jane Austen stories that it is clear that a lot of people dream of this. (Not to mention all the fan fic out there). And who hasn’t dreamed of the male protagonist coming to life in the real world and falling in love with them?
What this book does really well though, besides bring an adorable fictional prince to life, is it plays on this concept of all book characters being real. When a reader isn’t reading the book, all of the characters in the fairytale get to relax, collect butterflies, cook pastries, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s like they’re actors that act out the same play over and over again, but when no one is paying attention (reading the play), they get to be themselves.
Jodi Picoult, in her adult books, likes to go back and forth between different characters’ points of views. She and her daughter do this too. And hands down, the best parts of the book, are the parts where we get to see the fairytale characters in their real lives. The mermaids who fell in love with the prince in the story are actually feminists. And the evil villain prefers reading about insects to just about anything. All of these characters become real. And we get to see Delilah in the real world, Prince Oliver in the fairy tale world (wishing to do more than just keep acting out the same story), and we also get to see the actual fairy tale.
Throughout the whole book, are gorgeous illustrations. There are pictures of Oliver in his story, but also there’s pictures of things from Delilah’s story, and little pieces of the magic between them. I wish I got to see more pictures of the characters too, but I guess it was mostly about Oliver, so that makes sense.
I felt bad for Delilah and what she was going through at school, but she really didn’t seem 15 to me. And it’s not because she loved a children’s book (because well, I’m an adult who loves children’s books). Her problems with friends and her ways of handling them just seemed more like the actions of a 11 or 12 year old. Nothing is really wrong with this. However, Delilah’s emotions and real life problems made this book seem more for a younger audience than YA. The situations at school felt kind of Disney Channel Original movie, and not so much like high school.
I also wasn’t really buying the romance. I felt like Oliver didn’t really know Delilah. He knew what her room looked like, and what her eyes looked like. And he liked her for wanting to help him, and being able to hear him. But other than that, they didn’t have too much background for love. Though, I guess, if they are following fairy tale guidelines, everyone falls in love instantly? I also felt bad for a new character at the end, and kind of felt like that story was rushed too much.
All in all, the characters were fantastic, the illustrations were gorgeous, and the concept was amazing. It definitely read as more of a book for the younger spectrum of the YA audience (I’d have no qualms with putting in the Children’s room at my library, as compared to the teen room –same category as Gail Carson Levine). The romance was handled kind of abruptly. And not all of the loose ends were tied up with the happily ever after. I read it really fast and I can see a lot of people loving this one. I give it 8/10.

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