Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publication date: December 1, 2010

My review:

On a trip to the Strand during his Christmas break, Dash comes across a red moleskine notebook with cryptic instructions and a dare. Dash is intrigued and decides to play along. Lily is surprised when she finds out that someone picked up her notebook. When she asks the bookstore clerk to describe this mystery boy, he says that Dash is "snarly". But Dash has also decided to leave his own challenges for Lily and so the two of them go back and forth around New York City leaving clues about themselves and their lives in the pages of the notebook, daring each other to step out of their comfort zones. But does the notebook reveal the real Lily and Dash or are they bound to be disappointed if they ever meet in person?

The book is told in alternating chapters by Lily and Dash. I like this format of storytelling especially since Dash's chapters are written by David Levithan and Lily's chapters by Rachel Cohn. This is particularly good in Dash's case-he sounds male. The problem is that he also sounds more like a college age kid than a teen but it is possible that Dash is just different from other guys his age. His mature voice and dry wit made me like him more. There is a snarkiness to him and yes, he does come across as "snarly". Lily on the other hand seems too immature for Dash at times. She has been overprotected by her family and I found her to be annoying at times. I can see why she was nicknamed Shrilly (though the story behind it is sad). Still, I liked her most of the time, especially when she was willing to step outside of her comfort zone and try new things. I also liked the side characters like Boomer and Mrs. Basil E. though it did feel like they existed more to help us understand Lily and Dash than as characters in their own right.

What I really found enjoyable about this book was the obvious love of words and literature behind it, particularly in the chapters penned by Levithan. There was something very Gilmore Girls-like about it. The smartness of the dialogue and Dash's inner thoughts made him my favorite character. I also liked that both of the characters came to realize that they couldn't base their feelings on the idealized versions of each other that developed from their notebook entries. I think that added something realistic to the story. It would otherwise have been like reading the script for Serendipity: the Teen Years (referring to the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale movie). 

Thought it has some flaws, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is a fun book with quirky characters, some humorous moments and strange situations. I would suggest this to fans of Julie Halpern, John Green, and E. Lockhart.

Readalikes: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, How to Be Bad by Sarah Mlynowski, E. Lockhart, and Lauren Miracle


  1. I read this one late last year and enjoyed it. I think my feelings were much as yours were concerning the characters, but I thought it was great fun to run all over New York hunting for clues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I definitely thought Dash's chapters were the stronger of the two. Levithan just has a way of writing that I really like. The realistic aspects that you mentioned helped me enjoy it even more. I like when books aimed at a YA audience don't stereotype or talk down to the reader, and I think this book managed to do what a lot of books in this genre don't. Great review!

  3. ohh smart dialogue is a win!
    I'm still not sure if I'll read this (I'd heard the characters, especially Lily, could be really immature) but there's definitely something intriguing about it! Enjoyed reading your review :)

  4. I have been meaning to get this, it sounds wonderful :)

  5. I really enjoyed this book and the characters. While I think it had a few flaws too, it is still a fun read. Great review!


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