Off the Page, the sequel to 2012's Between the Lines marks the second offering by the mother-daughter writing team of Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer.
A few months have passed since Delilah successfully released Prince Oliver from his literary prison, having switched his place with look-alike Edgar, son of Jessemyn Jacobs, author of the fairy tale in question. Despite some awkward situations, mostly having to do with Oliver having to acclimate to the world of today's teenager, things couldn't be more perfect for the happy couple. Ironically, when things seem too good to be true...well...that's when things start to go wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Seemingly displeased with the edits Delilah, Oliver, and Edgar made at the end of Between the Lines in order to free Oliver, the magical storybook appears to be trying to correct itself. It wants Oliver back and will not rest until he returns. Furthermore, Edgar is starting to feel homesick, a situation that is given urgency when Jessemyn is diagnosed with late-stage terminal cancer. Throughout the story, characters are sucked into and spit back out of the book thanks to magical hidden portals, sometimes with humorous (Princess Seraphima vs. High School Mean Girl = LOL!), sometimes with tragic (poor Frump!) results. All the while, Delilah and Oliver try to work things out so everyone can have their happily ever after. Or, at the very least, things can work out in the best way possible.
I'm typically not a fan of sequels, especially when I enjoyed the original book. I worry the sequel will ruin Book One for me. That said, I was extremely skeptical of Off the Page. I loved Between the Lines and didn't think it needed a sequel. Still... I was curious. And it was this curiosity that led me to read it. Now, having read Off the Page, I'll happily admit how wrong my initial reaction was and take back everything I've ever said about how evil unnecessary sequels can be.
At least in this particular case.
Off the Page was sweet, funny, touching, and just awesome. I loved reading the development of Oliver and Delilah's relationship (can you say, Awwwwww!). Additionally, side characters from Between the Lines were given much more dimension here, and I really enjoyed "getting to know them better" (a surprising favorite ended up being Princess Seraphima, a character who annoyed me to no end in Between the Lines, but who showed extraordinary depth and development of character in the sequel). Even resident mean girl Allie (sort of) redeemed herself by proudly flying her Geek Flag. By the end of the book I was cheering for everything to work out and for everyone to find their happy ending. And, for the most part, I was not disappointed (I still say the story could have done without that thing with Frump, though).
The Verdict: READ THIS BOOK!!! ...but read Between the Lines first (otherwise you won't enjoy Off the Page nearly as much). --AJB