Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan and I've been looking forward to this book since she first announced she was writing a YA book with her daughter. Jodi Picoult + YA is literally a dream come true for me! I was worried about how I'd review this; whether I'd be comparing it to her other books etc. but this book completely stands out on its own, and it's going to be pretty easy to talk about!
Firstly, this book is beautiful. Not just the cover, but the stunning illustrations that appear throughout the book, and the way the chapters are given different fonts and even different colour text. It's obvious that so much love and care has been put into making this a book that you'll want to treasure. I had to be so careful reading it because I didn't want to damage it at all! (Ok, so I'm like that with all my books but this one even more so). There's several full page illustrations which are just wonderful, and smaller, cute little silhouettes dotted throughout some of the chapters. I just want to stroke this book all day long!
Now on to the actual story. The book tells the story of Oliver and Delilah. Oliver is a character in a fairy tale. When the story is being read he must act out his part in it, fighting to rescue Seraphima and live happily ever after. But when the book is closed the characters are alive, waiting until the next time someone reads the book and they have to spring into action. Delilah is a misfit teenager; unpopular, always last in swimming races and happiest with her head in a book, particularly this one fairy tale. Then she realises that the characters are alive and strikes up a friendship with Oliver.
The whole story is so brilliantly done. It's such a fab little idea! I think what impressed me most is that it's exactly the kind of story a dedicated reader should love. Not only is Delilah a girl who loves reading, but the whole story bases itself on the idea that characters are alive when we're not reading them. I think the best books and the best characters are those where you play out scenes with the characters in your head, long after you've finished the book. Between the Lines really plays on that idea and turns it into something even bigger. What if the characters are only acting? What if you could change the ending of a story? What would happen if you could speak to your favourite character? What happens when you close a book? Plus, if you've ever read a book and been able to totally relate to a character and wish they were real (who hasn't?!) then you will love this story.
The story is told from both Delilah and Oliver's perspectives, with the chapters alternating between the two, and between chapters of the fairy tale from Delilah's book. Not only is the main story between Oliver and Delilah brilliant but the fairy tale itself is an absolute delight to read! I loved reading those parts and escaping into that world just as Delilah does, with the magical tale of a prince and princess, plus added dragon, mermaids and fairies really hooking me in.
I couldn't put this book down. I just loved spending time with the characters and waiting to find out what would happen. It's not like anything Picoult has ever written, but it makes me want her to write more YA in the future. I'm so glad she helped her daughter's idea come to life! (Samantha originally pitched the idea to her mum and they decided to write it togther). It's a book I know I'll want to re-read over and over.
Anyone who loves and appreciates books should absolutely adore this one. If you love fairy tales then it's a must as well!
What to read next: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks.
Books like this: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, Enchanted by Alethia Contis.