I only picked up this book because I love – LOVE – Jodi Picoult’s writing. I was interested to see what a collaborative work from her would be like, and after I’d bought it, I remembered that I had read somewhere about her commencing a writing project with her daughter, which is a) lovely and b) only made me more keen to read the outcome!
Off The Page is sort of a contemporary fairy tale, and is actually a sequel (the first instalment being Between The Lines) which I didn’t realise when I bought it (didn’t read the blurb properly – whoops!!). However, as the back cover states, it is also a standalone story and I spent a pleasant few hours yesterday afternoon gobbling it up in the sunshine. Before starting, I was particularly enchanted by the premise of the story – that characters in a book, much like the toys in Toy Story, have secret lives and relationships when the book is closed, and that, with a little magic, a fictional character might come to life and step Off The Page into the real world, or vice versa. Tell me what book lover hasn’t had that particular fantasy!
Picoult and Van Leer lay the groundwork for this premise beautifully; only a small amount of suspension of disbelief was required, and although the writing style is decidedly (and understandably) less mature than Picoult’s other works, I was engrossed enough in the characters and the story to not want to put it down until I’d finished. There are one or two threads left not-so-neatly tied at the end (perhaps leaving the way for a further instalment in a budding series?) and I am more than likely to grab a copy of the prequel when I come across it.
The real special touch with this book, though, was the multimedia content. Download the free app Zappar and the book springs to life on your phone – some may see this as a gimmick, but I found it a charming extra sprinkle of magic. The app tie-in wouldn’t be enough to hold up a poorly written book, but as it is, it adds a little extra sparkle to an already sweet story. It’s not the first time Picoult has experimented with multimedia – her 2011 novel, Sing You Home, includes a downloadable soundtrack designed to be listened to one track to each chapter. I have the book, but have never downloaded the music – mostly because I enjoy her writing immensely and was too impatient to slow down and listen to music – I just wanted to gobble the chapters, already! – but I have always meant to go back and read/listen as the author intended. Now perhaps this sweet fairytale and my new blog will give me the excuse to do so!