Out of Character is a love letter to fan fiction, friendship, and love. It’s a book that flew by as we are immersed in Cass’s mistakes, apologies, and tender vulnerability. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Out of Character takes a phrase which normally means that we are acting differently to how we normally are – a phrase of concern – and gives it a double meaning. Miller infuses Out of Character with role playing and fan fiction addiction to give this phrase depth. The idea that we have this ‘character’ who we play and live their lives and what it means to be out of this characters. The harsh pieces of reality we have to confront and the safety it provides us.
It’s also about the ‘characters’ we have to assume around people. All the lies we tell and secrets we hide which aren’t necessarily malicious, but out of fear of not being ready. Out of Character is tender and emotional. To escape her parents growing animosities, Cass loses herself – and her grades – in an online world creating real meaningful friendships. In many ways, this book is about finding ourselves. This process of (re)discovery and how it can be one of joy, grief, loss, and fear.
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I couldn’t help but fall in love with Cass in Out of Character. She has a vulnerability which is endearing in the ways it reflects our own. And as someone who has sometimes lost herself in online worlds, Out of Character resonates. About finding our way back to our family, our friends, and ourselves. Find Out of Character on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Bookshop.org, & Blackwells.