Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

[Book review by ForTheLoveOfBooks–CS.]

” I’ve left some clues for you.

If you want them, turn the page.

If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favourite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash the right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

This is the first book I’ve read by collaboration partners Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. I’ve read Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and The Lover’s Dictionary by Levithan. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book because a lot of bloggers have raved about this book, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t fall into the category where “everyone likes this book.” I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Clearly I’ve got a date with this book again at the end of the year! And once again my cover gushing continues, but I really can’t help it! The cover of this book is adorable and I like all the colours of the buildings and lamp posts. Of course I can’t forget the heart-shaped crossing sign and snow flakes.

First off I will say how the book is written. David Levithan wrote all of Dash’s chapters while Rachel Cohn wrote Lily’s chapters. The story takes place in New York City, where Dash is spending Christmas by himself, he’s told both his divorced parents that he’s spending Christmas with the other, when in reality he’s by himself and quite happy with this arrangement. Lily on the other hand is upset and angry with her parents celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary in Fiji and Grandpa spending Christmas in Florida whilst she’s stuck with her brother Langston and his boyfriend Benny. The Red Moleskin Journal of Dares is Langston’s idea because he believes Lily needs a boyfriend and thus the story continues with the journal being passed back and forth between the two protagonists. Of course not everything goes smoothly with journal passing in New York City, but are Dash & Lily meant for each other? Read the book to find out!

This is the second book that I’ve read that has been co-written and I enjoyed the different writing styles. Plot wise, the story was unique. The concept of a person having to leave their comfort zone and try something new, in New York City of all places is exciting and adventurous. I think it is fair to say that this book tells a coming of age story, where Lily in particular is given an opportunity to venture out into the ‘real world’, away from her protective family and experience different things, even if the results are disastrous. For Dash I think it was about accepting and understanding people for who they are, rather than what he made them to be in his head. One of the things that made this book wonderful was the setting. There’s something about New York City during Christmas time that is magical. The places that Dash & Lily visited definitely had a hipster feeling to it and I enjoyed that aspect. And I actually didn’t know that there was a Madame Tussaud Museum in New York until I read this book, so I guess you learn something new everyday. There were some filler paragraphs in certain chapters, especially in Lily’s which was somewhat annoying, but I was able to brush those flaws away and just enjoy the book. The ending of the book as expected was a little corny, and to my surprise I didn’t mind. Usually I’m a person who just groans at the prospect of corny endings, but the end was written in a way that made you gush and smile.

Character wise I liked Dash more than I did Lily. I liked Dash because he was a self-confessed word nerd and I have to say that I’m attracted to intelligent guys. As Daniel Radcliffe said in an interview on the show Rove, “Intelligence is Sexy.”  Sometimes I couldn’t believe that he was a 16-year-old because of his vocabulary. His use of the word “Frequaintance” made me laugh because I had used the exact same word when I was talking to my old housemate a few weeks back! I certainly didn’t meet many guys who could articulate themselves as well as Dash when I was 16. Another thing that I admired about Dash’s character was his independence and how comfortable he was with being by himself. Also most of the quotable parts in the book were in Dash’s chapters. I liked that Lily was also comfortable being her own person instead of going along with the crowd. And it was great that she was into sports, especially Football (Soccer) like I am! Sometimes I did find her character to be a bit high-strung and  I found myself wanting her chapters to end quickly.

The secondary characters were equally awesome and funny. I especially liked Dash’s friend Boomer and his ex-girlfriend Sofia. At some parts I felt like Sofia was the right one for Dash because it seemed that she was more level-headed than Lily, but in the end I had to admit that Lily was the one for Dash because she brought out his quirkiness. Boomer was a joy as character because he was always happy and he was a great friend, especially when it came to being a sort of character reference to Dash. Lily’s great-aunt Ida was also cool because she was Lily’s voice of reason and always  had her back.

Overall Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares  was a great read. I liked the concept of the book, the setting, the dares, the characters, everything was enjoyable. The book definitely brought New York City to life for me and now I want to go and visit The Strand bookstore! It also made me want to go on an adventure of my own where I can explore all the cities of the world. Preferably I would like to start my Red Moleskin Journal Dare adventure in London, England, but at this point I’ll take any city!This book is one for the holiday season despite me reading it over the summer. Even with its flaws and sometimes annoyances Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares will make you smile. It’s also got great quotes which is an added bonus!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Would I Recommend It? Definitely

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