Off The Page – Picoult & Van Leer

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!

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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!

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