First and foremost, I must concede that Jessica Dall’s “Off Book” is one of the most original and extraordinary narratives I have read in quite some time. Everything about the novel is so new and vivid that it’s fairly difficult for me to highlight what I liked best about it because it was sincerely all so special.
The story itself is a clever twist and commentary on the meaning of life and defining what one’s true purpose really is. Guised under the genre of sci fi/new adult/fantasy, the work itself reminded me of a modern day “Into the Woods” with its momentum and subversion of the definition of what writing is and how characters are developed.
Integrated with the mechanics of plot and structure and pace and other literary devices, the lead character, Eloise, is still awaiting her own assignment in a story despite her clear superior knowledge of what makes the quintessential character. In fact, if she isn’t placed in a story soon, she will fade away forever.
Fortunately, for both the reader, and for Eloise, her luck changes and she becomes a renegade of sorts. Instead of conforming to what she thought what her life should be like, she opts to dwell an individual existence. Questioning her own motivations and the formalities of the story she inevitably gets assigned to, Eloise becomes aware that only she can make the changes required to live her happiest life, in or out of a story.
Full of proverbial twists and turns, Jessica Dall’s “Off Book” manages to integrate all of her ambitious slights of phrase and plot devices into one cohesive narrative that leaves the reader satisfied and curious as to what else the author is capable of. I particularly enjoyed her clear talent at creating a world that any reader can relate to, with all of it highs and lows.