Sunday, June 10, 2012

Between the Lines, by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer- Review

From Goodreads:
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.

I've never read a Jodi Picoult novel before, but to say there has been buzz in anticipation of this, her first YA novel,  would be an understatment.  So when it popped up in my mailbox a few weeks ago, from the lovely folks at Simon and Schuster, I was excited to give it a go.

The story premise is a cute concept.  Delilah will be immediately recognizable to most readers as themselves at a younger age, and the longing to be swept into the story one readers of any age or genre will be able to sympathize with.  I also like the fun Picoult had with the characters in their "down time",  Socks won't play his part because he thinks he has a zit (he's Olivers horse), or the villains love for baking and painting.

The big downfall of Between the Lines for me was the age group it was trying to reach.  This didn't feel like a YA book to me so much as a MG novel, and unlike MG novels like Riordan's or Mull's, Between the lines did not feel like a novel that could bridge the gap between 12 year olds and 15 year olds.  Too much of the story was over simplified for precocious or older readers.   Delilah and Oliver are too immediately and desperately in love, there are too many references, from a very early point in the story, about how they can't loose each other or be without the other.   Complex situations arise for dramatic or story progression reasons that are then discarded or too easily resolved.  For instance Delilah's mom gets concerned about Delilah talking to a book and takes her to a shrink, which goes very badly, but doesn't have any consequences- even after the shrink expresses concern, leaves the office and then comes back to find her with the book sopping wet and all indications that she had dumped it into his fish tank.

In the end I think this story would have worked a lot better for a younger audience, and although there are a few moments that might be inappropriate or over the head of a younger reader, feminist mermaids, and Oliver's confession that although Seraphima is too vacant for him to actually be interested in she's hot enough that the kissing scenes aren't torture, immediately come to mind- I would think the average 7-9 year old girl would get a big kick out this story.  Maybe as an edited read aloud?

Between the Lines, by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Published by Simon and Schuster, June 26th 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Between the Lines on Amazon