Out Of Character by Jenna Miller
Published: February 16th 2023 by Harper Collins
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary Romance, LGBT
Quick Thoughts: Heartfelt, sincere and down-to-earth—this book has the makings of everything I love in YA fiction, truly glorious.
About The Book:
If you asked seventeen-year-old Cass Williams to describe herself, she’d happily tell you she’s fat, queer, and obsessed with the Tide Wars books. What she won’t tell you—or anyone in her life—is that she’s part of an online Tide Wars roleplay community. Sure, it’s nerdy as hell, but when she’s behind the screen writing scenes as Captain Aresha, she doesn’t have to think about her mother who walked out or how unexpectedly stressful it is dating resident cool girl Taylor Cooper.
But secretly retreating to her online life is starting to catch up with Cass. For one, no one in her real life knows her secret roleplay addiction is the reason her grades have taken a big hit. Also? Cass has started catching feelings for Rowan Davies, her internet bestie…and Taylor might be catching on.
As Cass’s lies continue to build, so does her anxiety. Roleplaying used to be the one place she could escape to, but this double life and offline-online love triangle have only made things worse. Cass must decide what to do—be honest and risk losing her safe space or keep it a secret and put everything else on the line.
Out Of Character was on my TBR for months before I had the chance to read it (as one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year) and holding it in my hands felt a little surreal! I read it over the course of a week (I had to resist the urge to fast-read it in excitement and truly enjoy it.)
Main character Cass loves many things in life, but Tide Wars, her best friend/neighbour Tate, her online friends and family (including cat) are the best of them—except her offline friends don’t know about her online friends . . . and the community she’s a part of within the fandom of the popular books called Tide Wars. Cass is co-lead of a discord-type server of fans that write scenes and roleplay. When Cass is there, she can immerse herself in the pretend world and forget about her real-life problems, like her Mom that just walked out, and how nervy it is dating Taylor, her crush-turned-girlfriend.
Keeping her worlds apart is somewhat easy, to start with. But as Cass grows more addicted to roleplaying, escaping normal life, her grades slip further and her real-life relationships take a hit, too. To strain matters further, when Cass begins to fall for one of her roleplay best friends, Rowan, it’s not long before Taylor begins to suspect something is up. And with her double life and newly-formed love triangle spinning into orbit, Cass has a heavy decision to make: tell the truth and potentially lose her safe haven, or keep telling lies and risk everything—and everyone—she loves.
Overall, Out Of Character was so. damn. good. Jenna has this magic way of writing a character that makes you just want to keep reading about their life. Cass and her friends had true friendship goals. I loved how the book showed that you can get supportive, genuine friends online, too, and not just from school (as I know from being mostly home-schooled after I was fourteen. Most of my friends I met through fandoms/books too.) Cass’s love interests were both such great side characters with well-crafted personalities, and I adored Rowan. Also as a plus size girl, I loved that there was rep for bodies like mine, also. Heartfelt, sincere and down-to-earth—this book has the makings of everything I love in YA fiction, it was truly glorious! A must read.
About The Author
Jenna Miller (she/her) writes Young Adult books about fat, queer, nerdy girls who deserve to be seen and have their voices heard. When she’s not obsessing over words, she can be found making charcuterie boards, befriending people online, cross stitching, or adventuring in the Minneapolis area.