Going Off Script by Jen Wilde
Seventeen-year-old Bex is thrilled when she gets an internship on her favorite tv show, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the internship isn’t quite what she expected… instead of sitting in a crowded writer’s room volleying ideas back and forth, Production Interns are stuck picking up the coffee.
Determined to prove her worth as a writer, Bex drafts her own script and shares it with the head writer―who promptly reworks it and passes it off as his own! Bex is understandably furious, yet…maybe this is just how the industry works? But when they rewrite her proudly lesbian character as straight, that’s the last straw! It’s time for Bex and her crush to fight back.
Jen Wilde’s books always make my heart sing. I’m not normally a fan of rom-coms, but I always feel so happy whenever I read her books. They’re queer anthems, a world where being yourself is the best person you can possibly be, and I always find myself falling in love. Going Off Script is no different: it’s just a fun rom-com written by a queer person, for queer people.
Bex is a character that I could very much relate to. She’s ambitious and determined to do what’s right, but also has a very complicated relationship with her past and struggles with breaking out of her shell and what’s comfortable for her. She is also incredibly awkward around cute girls, which is a whole mood. Her character development throughout the book is so good, and I just loved seeing her become so self-confident
Our side characters are great, too, and it was exciting to see so many of them from Wilde’s last novels, Queens of Geek and The Brightsiders — and you know, I never realized how much she wrote about young adults in the spotlight until I read this, honestly? If you’ve read the earlier novels, you’ll definitely recognize a whole bunch of characters, but if you haven’t, it’s a good introduction to go read them. New characters include Shrupty Padwal, an actress and YouTuber, and Bex’s love interest, who’s just so cute with Bex. They’re truly a queer power couple, but definitely not the only queer power couple.
What I love is how casually diverse this is, something that Jen Wilde really excels at. Almost all of the major characters are queer. A lot are people of colour. There’s a couple nonbinary characters. Bex and Parker are on medication for ADHD and depression (and honestly, I read Bex as autistic, too?). As usual, fandom plays a huge role in Going Off Script, and even though it’s not entirely realistic it’s definitely heartwarming to see.
The book is really more slice-of-life than anything, which I honestly really liked. Bex is a writer, and yeah, her script gets stolen by the head writer, Malcolm, but it’s definitely not the focus of the book, and seems to be an afterthought to Bex’s journey to self-confidence and her romance with Shrupty. Really, the resistance to straight-washing Bex’s lesbian character only takes up the latter half of the book, and you know, that’s all right with me. Sometimes you just need cute girls falling in love, okay?
I do have to say: if you’re looking for great writing or realism, don’t expect to find it in this book. There’s a bit of suspension of disbelief required for the resistance that Bex and her friends put up, and the main antagonist of the book, Malcolm, is such a terrible human being that it’s almost cartoonish. The book isn’t really nuanced, but it is just an absolute blast to read. There is a bit more homophobia than normal in this one, but it’s overwhelmed by queer happiness and power.
If you’re looking for a fun queer rom-com, this is definitely the book for you. It’s an ode to being queer and happy and yourself, and it feels so empowering.
content warnings | some homophobia (challenged)
representation | f/f main couple, queer characters (lesbian, gay, bisexual, non-binary), characters of colour (indian, black, chinese), neurodivergent characters (adhd, mentally ill)
have you read going off script or any of jen wilde’s other books?