Review: Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

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Title: Off the Page
Authors: Jodi Picoult/ Samantha Van Leer
Published: 2015

I’ve been having one of those weeks where you just can’t decide what to read. I’ve been hovering over my bookshelves for ages, searching for a good book. I picked up about three books to start and it ended in every one of them being replaced on the shelf. I started reading Unhooking the Moon which I reviewed earlier this week, and couldn’t get into it. One option remained – the Library. I hurried off, completely lost without a book to delve into, confident I’d find something here. I arrived. Teenage section – it all seemed to be the same stuff. I scanned the shelf for something new. I’m a regular visitor to this place: I almost know all the titles off by heart. Ah! Something new. It was displayed on the very top shelf, and I picked it up eagerly, intrigued by the cover. I liked the look of it – it was something a bit different. Something long enough to keep me reading for a while. Yes, I think I’d give this a try…

I sat down for a moment, just to read the blurb and the first page. It sounded good. A bit strange, but good. But it was a sequel, a book in itself, but the sequel to a book called Between the Lines. Never mind – it was worth a try. I took it home, and sat down and read for a while. First impressions were – wow, I don’t think I could write something alongside side someone! (Two authors to this book). Especially a novel. And my other impression was that I’d walked into something really bizarre. The main characters of this book are Deliah, a really nice, bubbly and enthusiastic girl, and her boyfriend Oliver. Now brace yourself: Oliver came straight out of a fairytale. Yes, literally. (And no, this book isn’t aimed at an audience of three years old).
Despite this, I actually really loved this book. It was written in the point of view of three characters – Deliah, Oliver and a boy called Edgar, who swapped places with Oliver and went to live in this fairytale so his friend could be free. I’m guessing this all happened in the first book, anyway. This fairytale was written by Edgar’s mother: Jessamyn for his son, and apparently these are the only people who read the book. Which got me thinking – why did Edgar have to replace Oliver if there was no audience to realize his absence in the story? They could have just set Oliver free and Edgar could have gone on living with his Mother. But again, there might have been some rules established in the first book which made this option impossible…? So Oliver is living with Jessamyn, posing as her son (thought she might have noticed…) and as Oliver is so used to old-fashioned language and stuff, he is struggling to fit in at the school he is attending with Deliah.

It is very entertaining reading about his mishaps at school. There are some really original ideas used in this book. For example, instead of bleeding like humans, Oliver has a habit of inking when he is injured! The book is full of similar comedy.

Every couple of chapters or so, there is a beautiful coloured illustration to accompany the text. They are very magical and beautiful pictures and it is a nice addition to the story, to have these, in my opinion. I like the front cover, too – that was what initially hooked me. The paper characters coming out of the book suggested a touch of fantasy, the open book suggested references to literature… I’m glad I read this book. I thought it was really original. I’m going to look out for the first book in the series next, and see where it all began…

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