Book Review: Unwritten by Elisabeth Bell. Book 1 of the Unreal Series

I have said before that I’m not keen on books written in the first person and the present tense. I’m even less keen on books written about an author writing a book – especially when the main plot is the author writing a book. I feel that there’s a real danger that it can get self-indulgent. This is a book written in the first person, present tense, about an author writing a book and I loved it.

The book is about Lily, a nurse, who started writing a book many years ago and then forgot about her work. When she is waylaid by a character from the story she had forgotten, it comes as something of a surprise and she needs a lot of convincing before she can take it seriously. It’s fun, complicated and well written and, as a nurse, Lily immediately books tests for brain injuries as she cannot believe that she has just had an encounter with an imaginary person.

This isn’t an adventure story. Without giving too much away, while there are exciting and action packed encounters with the characters from Lily’s book, at the heart this is a light and fun romance. Lily starts falling for Jake, a gorgeous businessman who is intrigued when as he sees her dealing with his uncle’s IV and preparation for surgery. The romance is lovely and sweet and very wholesome. There is nothing explicit in the story. The two main characters are honest and genuine with each other, which makes a refreshing change, and are generally nice people. As I settled into the book, I felt that it was very much a cozy read.

There is a slight drawback to this book. There is a sense that it’s written for writers, particularly romance writers. The chapter headings include The Info Dump, The Miscommunication Trope and The Falling in Love Montage. The writing is excellent, but there is a lot that is driven by the inside joke of this is a writer writing about a writer who is writing and it’s one of the problems that can come up in stories about writers.

I think this is a fun, cozy read even if you’re not a writer, but it’s only fair to let you know that it’s helpful if you know about the idea of Third Act Conflict, the name of one of the chapters and something that can be used when you construct a framework for a novel.

I very much enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to the planned next book. It may not have entirely won me over to ‘first person, present tense, writing about writing’ but it was a sweet, wholesome, enjoyable read and I am happy to recommend it.  

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