between the lines

Enjoyability:       smilesmilesmilehalf-smileblank spaceblank space

Deep Thoughts: medium brainmedium brainmedium blank spacemedium blank spacemedium blank space

Pages: 352      Copyright: 2012

15-year-old Delilah Mcphee, like so many of us, loves to lose herself in books, especially since her father left her and her mother and started a new family far away. She even sometimes feels that the characters in books are her friends. But that feeling is taken to an all-new level when an illustrated character in her favorite fairytale starts moving around and talking to her.

That character is Oliver, a teen who plays a heroic prince on-page, but is a completely different person when the book is closed– and who wants out. Finding understanding in each other that they haven’t found anywhere else, the two form a strange alliance as they struggle to find a way for Oliver to escape his story.

This wasn’t the most memorable or noteworthy book I’ve ever read. But I did definitely enjoy it. As a book lover (and the lover of many a fictional character), the premise alone was enough to captivate me pretty deeply; and though that premise probably could have been carried more mind-blowingly by the actual writing, it didn’t carry it poorly. I thought it was sweet.

Honestly, I’m having trouble with this review. Initially I started on this big speech: I was going to say that in the end, the story was more like a fairy tale than anything else. And that it might not have a certain complexity that we generally demand from a novel, but that maybe that’s okay, if we accept it as fairytale-format. There isn’t generally one accredited writing of a fairy tale, in terms of the specific words and such. It can be written and re-written and remain the same, because the essence of a fairy tale is the premise and the basic plot points. And that maybe that’s kind of how Between the Lines functions; the point is to imagine a girl and a book character being able to talk to each other and fall in love, and the character trying to leave the book, not to experience a great display of writing and structural prowess.

So that’s my big speech. But as I finished typing it, I became unsure that I agreed with myself. No, the characters didn’t evolve much, but they weren’t totally flat, and plot wasn’t that simplistic.  And the technique of the writing never bothered me, it seemed perfectly sound.

So now I’ve given my point and my counterpoint against my own self; and I guess you’ll have to go read it to decide what you think. And I do recommend reading it. It’s not especially short, but I whipped through it quite fast, and it made me happy. I just can’t decide quite how to judge it on a critical level. If you’ve read it (or even if you haven’t), please comment any opinions or thoughts you have, because clearly I need help.

P.S., props to Samantha Van Leer, Jodi Picoult’s teen daughter and co-writer of this book. Go teen writers!