Off Book by Jessica Dall

Off Book by Jessica Dall
Publisher: REUTS Publications
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (181 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Twenty-year-old Eloise has learned all she can from the School, where characters live until joining their novels. No one knows genre and plot structure better than her, but despite her knowledge, she’s yet to be assigned to her own story. All her friends are off starting their lives with their authors—and if Eloise doesn’t get assigned soon, she’ll fade away, forgotten by all.

When she is offered a job at the Recording Office, instead, she takes the chance to write her own future. Suddenly living among the post-storied, Eloise meets Barnaby Fitzwilliam, a former romance novel hero who hasn’t lost any of his in-story charm. But just as their relationship begins to get serious, Eloise is sucked into a novel she was never meant to be part of, turning everything they thought they knew about their world upside down.

Now, caught where the only rules are made by authors and truly anything is possible, Eloise must find her way back home—or her life might end before she ever gets the chance to live it.

It’s hard to sit by and watch other people find their destinies. Eloise has been gracious about it for a long time, but when will it be her turn?

There were quite a few plot twists that I didn’t see coming. Ms. Dall’s vivid imagination worked really well with the premise of this story, especially once the characters settled into their roles and began reacting to everything that was happening to them. What I appreciated the most about all of these surprises was how well they worked with the plot as well as everything I was able to figure out about the personalities of the characters involved in them.

Speaking of the characters, I would have really liked to see more time spent developing their personalities. I like Eloise and Barnaby, but I finished the final chapter without ever having a clear understanding of what it would be like to be in the same room with them. Would they be talkative or quiet? How would they react to disappointing news? What kind of response could I expect from them if they were angry? Had even some of my questions about them been answered, this book would have easily earned a much higher rating.

One of my favorite things to see in a possible romantic subplot is a strong friendship. If two characters have enough in common that I could see them being best friends, I will almost certainly root for them to end up together. It took a while for the romantic elements of this tale to fully appear, but I was glad the author took her time to show the audience why the people involved in that storyline might make such a good match. It kept my attention and made it hard to stop reading.

Off Book was incredibly clever. I’d recommend it to anyone has ever wondered what characters really do when an author stops paying attention to them.

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