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Between the Lines - Jodi Picoult

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Authors: Jodi Picoult,Samantha Van Leer / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 20 June 2013 / Genre: Romance Stories / Subcategory: Children's Fiction / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: Between the Lines / ISBN 13: 9781444740998 / ISBN 10: 1444740998 / Alternative EAN: 9781444740967

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    2 Reviews
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      17.07.2012 19:22
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      A clever look at what happens to the characters of a book when the cover is closed

      Delilah is a teenager who probably should have moved beyond fairy stories, but there's one in particular that has her hooked. 'Between the Lines' - a book within a book - is a classic story of a prince searching for true love and battling all sorts of dragons and demons on the way, and for Delilah it's the perfect escape. Plus, the handsome hero, Prince Oliver, doesn't hurt. Like Delilah he's growing up without a father (though this matters far less to him than it does to her) and like Delilah he can feel something of an outsider, a little bit different from everyone else around. One day, as Delilah is reading the story for the umpteenth time, she gets the odd feeling that Oliver is talking back to her from the pages. But could there really be a whole other world that goes on between the pages when the book is closed, are they all just characters acting out the script of the story but different people when the spotlight is off, and is there a chance that, between the lines, there's a lot going on that is not for readers to know about?

      Told with chapters alternating between three points of view, through Delilah's and Oliver's eyes interspersed with the 'real' story, this is a highly readable modern day fairytale about a classic fairytale. As Delilah reads about Oliver's battles her own life mirrors that of the story, though in her case she's fighting with her mother over the right to read and re-read the book while he's fighting with his mother over whether or not he should be going on a dangerous adventure.

      There's nothing wrong with the fact that you have a teenager reading a children's book (or that we had an adult reviewing this teenage one) and the story needs Delilah to be a bit older to make it work. And it does work. I didn't know what to expect or how on earth it would end and I wanted to find out. While I didn't adore the way it finished, and found one character's departure a little abrupt and poorly thought out, I couldn't have thought of any better way to end it since to put the book down and say 'Sorry, I tried but it's not going to work' wasn't something Delilah would have done.

      This is, for want of a better word, a pleasant book. It is not especially funny, nor is it risqué in the way some teenage work is, but instead it is sweet and inoffensive, as only fairytales can be. The plot developments and the various set backs Delilah and Oliver encounter help build the anticipation but the back and forth between the book within the book and the characters' perspectives stalls this somewhat so it never gets truly exciting or unputdownable.

      Though the premise is an intriguing one, it was definitely the name on the cover that attracted me to his book. And yet this is Picoult like never before. There are no courtroom scenes, legal battles or dramatic plot twists here. There is still a decent amount of family drama and potential for heartbreak, but those aren't hallmarks exclusive to her. Co-written with her teenage daughter, whose idea the whole thing was in the first place, this is a book I'd call good but not great. If every teenage girl is looking for her prince, some would count Delilah lucky she found hers and he was as perfect and princely as one might dream. But she's very superficial in her judgements: she likes him because of his dashing good looks and the way he is a good listener, but there's nowhere else he can really go while she's talking to him so he's something of a captive audience. I thought he redeemed himself a bit with his loathing for his fictitious princess but I almost wished the ending had involved Delilah realising that her real life friends and family were more important than a one dimensional character in a book, no matter how handsome he is. I loved the idea of this book, but I only liked the delivery in the end, even taking into account the target audience.

      This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk

      I saw Between The Lines in Asda the other day at a nicely reduced price. It's only in hardback or Kindle form for now, but even the latter is reasonable because of the discount, and it's the sort of book that might perhaps be nicer in hardback.

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      • More +
        16.07.2012 22:43
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        A nice, easy to read YA book

        Delilah knows it's weird, but she can't stop reading her favourite fairy tale. Other girls her age are dating and cheerleading. But then, other girls are popular. She loves the comfort of the happy ending, and knowing there will be no surprises. Until she gets the biggest surprise of all, when Prince Oliver looks out from the page and speaks to her. Now Delilah must decide: will she do as Oliver asks, and help him to break out of the book? Or is this her chance to escape into happily ever after? Read between the lines for total enchantment . . .

        I don't normally read YA novels, as while I enjoy them, I still prefer the fiction aimed at my own market. However, I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan, and when I was offered the opportunity to read and review her brand new YA novel written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, I decided I wanted to give it a try even though it isn't normally something I would read. The cover for the book is stunning, a gorgeous mix of yellows and purples (and is immensely better than the US cover, well done to publishers Hodder) and looks somewhat magical just by that. I started to read, wondering if I'd find this as compulsive as Picoult's adult novels, and I was really surprised by the story inside... a magical fairy-tale of love and books!

        After reading Picoult's author notes at the start of the book where she writes about how fans of her books have asked her to write something for a younger market, it made me realise how much of a broad appeal this author holds. Her books are worldwide best-sellers, turned into Hollywood movies, and it seems that younger readers want in on Picoult's work too. Some of her adult novels contain themes perhaps inappropriate for younger readers, but Between the Lines balances that problem perfectly. It's a magical story aimed at the younger market, those readers old enough to sustain a near 400 page novel but has that brilliant Picoult writing we adult readers have come to know and love. The inclusion of her daughter Van Leer as a co-writer is a good one, and you cannot tell where one person's writing ends and another begins.

        I'm not nomally a fan of magical books - I personally just prefer something a little more realistic and true to life, and have really struggled with chick lit books with the magic element before by authors like Cecelia Ahern. However, Between the Lines doesn't pretend to be anything other than a magical tale, and I loved that from the outset. Our protagonist is a teenage girl, Delilah, who realises she probably shouldn't be reading fairytales (says who?!) but is so in love with the book anyway, she doesn't care. Delilah goes through all the emotions you'd expect of a character in her circumstances - shock, disbelief, awe - and I liked how Delilah's obsession started to affect other parts of her life too, showing how reading and books can encroach on even the most studious student and loving daughter! The way Picoult and Van Leer unfold the world of Oliver within the pages of the book is so clever, and I didn't disbelieve anything I was reading, and I certainly didn't scoff at it like I have magical tales in the past.

        What worked so well for me was how they constructed this world between the pages of the books for Oliver and the cast of his novel, who come to life when the book isn't being by a reader. Oliver is his own person despite his character and flaws, and is desperate to experience the real world with Delilah. The pair go through several means and ways of helping Oliver escape the pages, and we're really left wondering if the pair are going to be able to complete the feat. Oliver and Delilah's burgeoning romance is very sweet to read, and while you realise Delilah's naivety for falling in love with a character in a book, there's something wholesome and touching about the whole. Picoult and Van Leer tell the story through 3 main storyline threads - interestingly, they are all in a different colour print which is something I've never seen before in a book like this, but I really liked it, it was different! We have Delilah's story, Oliver's story and then the actual fairytale story, which is far less prominent than the other two but still important.

        The other thing I want to mention are the drawings. At the start of each of the fairytale chapters, we get a beautiful hand-drawn picture relating to that part of the book, taking up a whole page, and they are really stunning. There are also small drawings across the pages of the book too which is a lovely addition, and they are just a lovely addition, some of them are gorgeous. This is a really lovely YA novel, which I think is going to appeal highly to the younger age of the market simply because I think the upper end is catered for with the hard-hitting teen fiction out there (Twilight, Hunger Games) and there are some who just won't like the magical element. Me? I really enjoyed it, found the writing style easy to get into and I really liked the cast of characters as well. Oliver is a British Prince, the perfect antithesis of American teen Delilah, and it's a sweet romance that will leave you with a smile on your face. Lovely book.

        ISBN: 978-1444740967. RRP: £12.99. Pages: 384. Pubilshed by Hodder and Stoughton. Also available as an eBook.

        Thank you to ThinkJam.com for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com

        Thank you for reading.

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