Mini Book Review: OFF SCRIPT - by Kate Watson

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Published: January 2019 - Flux.
Genre: Young adult / romance / contemporary.
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos. 
Format: eARC.
Source: Netgalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book. All thoughts are my own. 

The summer after her first year of college, teen starlet Emma Crawford returns home to Manhattan to prepare for the role of a lifetime—and play career matchmaker to her friends. When Emma’s search for an assistant leads her to the wide-eyed Brittany Smith, Emma sees the big screen in the girl’s future. And because Emma knows best, she’s sure that steering Brittany onto the right path is all she needs to do to make her a star—even if Brittany doesn’t know it yet.

Emma’s plans start to unravel, however, when professional soccer player Liam Price re-enters her life. Not only is Liam her former best friend’s older brother, but he’s gorgeous, smart, and has no problem pointing out the (totally exaggerated) flaws in Emma’s plans. But as Emma comes in close contact with the darker side of Hollywood, she starts to question the glamorous world she’s always known and realizes her role in it needs to change—if she can find the courage to go off script.

The writing isn't memorable, but Watson writes well and the dialogue, especially, is fantastic. It's entertaining, witty, and clever. Sometimes it veers into cheesiness, but generally it's strong. The dialogue is easily my favourite aspect of this novel. 

Unfortunately, the plot is extremely dull. There's no sense of urgency, no truly exciting scenes, and I struggled to keep reading. I never disliked the story, but it never hooked me, either. The combination of merely filler content and unfocused themes messed with the pacing and sapped the thrill and tension from the plot; it's a timely and commendable decision on the author's part to bring the #MeToo movement into the story, but that only became the main plot about halfway through the book...Why? Why was the book's message never clear until then?

If the story was tightened and the plot was injected with high stakes, deeply compelling scenes, and had focus from beginning to end, I might've loved it.

  "You were hurt and feeling defensive? Join the club. We all have parental issues here, Emma. We're all scared, hurt little kids."  

The characters are fun and interesting. Watson's Emma is the perfect tribute to Austen's, and she has the same energy and compelling personality traits that make us love to hate the original Emma. Watson nails her heroine's personality.

As for the rest of the cast and their relationships, everyone is interesting in their own way and they all add something valuable to the story. Emma and Liam's romance is wonderfully nuanced and they have great chemistry, Emma's relationship with Brittany is the perfect parallel to Emma and Harriet's problematic relationship, and Emma's dynamic with her brother Harlan is a thoughtful and layered addition to the plot. 

With strong dialogue and colourful characters, Off Script is a feisty retelling of Austen's Emma. 

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