It was a funny sort of way how I came about being a reader and inevitably a fan of the writing of Jodi Picoult. I picked up my first book by this author The Pact about 6 years ago; simply for the reason that her first name was spelt the same way as my sister’s name. By the time I got to Between the Lines I’d successfully read every book (even the ones not published in the UK) by Jodi.
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up one of her novels and to be quite honest I hadn’t read the blurb on Between the Lines a novel she co-wrote with her daughter Samantha Van Leer. All I saw was a new book by Jodi and instantly checked it out from the library. When I did actually take the time to read the blurb before I started the book yesterday I was excited to see there was a complete change of subject matter for Jodi who usually writes about real life issues such as suicide, cancer and autism. A fantasy style novel seemed like a daring change.
I was right. It was very daring. Unfortunately too daring and invariably it failed. Some authors are extremely talented in being able to write novels of different genres, some are not. Jodi is one of the latter.
The novel is based around the idea that the 2 dimensional characters in novels come to life when the book is closed. That they lead their own lives unbeknownst to their readers and simply act out the story whenever the book is opened. So far so good right? That’s what I thought…
The two central characters in the novel are Delilah a 15 year old social misfit with no friends except for one gothic newcomer. Delilah is just trying to move on with life and get through school. The other central character in Between the Lines is Oliver; The Prince from the fairytale Delilah keeps reading again and again. Eventually Oliver who is unhappy with life inside the book and wants out, manages to contact Delilah and convince her to try and get him out of the book. Again sounds great…
Well it wasn’t. The characters were poor and literally 2 dimensional. There was nothing about them you could relate to and bond with, they were just flat. Delilah is a 15 year old girl its not even realistic that she would be rereading a children’s fairy tale simply because the character in the story did not have a dad just like her. The writing was dull and flat and uninteresting. There was nothing of Jodi’s articulate and interesting writing style. In the end having only made it a third of the way through I abandoned the book and returned it to the library.
I hate to be harsh but the only conclusion I can come to is that her daughter was actually the complete author of Between the Lines and that Jodi’s name was added to the title page simply to get it published and sold.