Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan came with me on my recent trip to Chicago. It made for light, engrossing, festive reading…even if I did have to struggle to keep my giggles to myself!
About the Book:
It’s just a few days before Christmas when Dash comes across a red Moleskine notebook tucked beside one of his favorite authors in the Strand, a sprawling bookstore in New York City. Intrigued, he opens it and reads:
“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.” (p. 4)
Needless to say, Dash turns the page. Eventually he learns that the notebook belongs to a girl named Lily. The two teenagers begin a series of dares, sending each other to odd places or assigning off-the-wall tasks. As each dare is fulfilled and the notebook is passed back and forth, Dash and Lily get to know one another through their written words alone.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was a quick holiday read. I loved the passing of the notebook and the dare that came with each exchange. The whole story was quite creative, written in chapters that alternate between Dash’s perspective (written by Levithan) and Lily’s (written by Cohn). The jacket flap says that Cohn and Levithan emailed chapters to one another without planning out the story, so it sounds like even they didn’t know what, specifically, would happen next. Perhaps because of the authors’ collaborative style, the book didn’t feel contrived.
I really liked Dash. He was articulate and smart and witty, even if he did lack quite a bit of holiday spirit. Lily, on the other hand, was brimming with Christmas cheer, yet overall she seemed a little too sappy and helpless and naive. Which is fine, but I don’t believe she’s the kind of person with whom Dash would have been particularly impressed. As the red notebook situation progressed, I felt less and less like Dash and Lily could ever be compatible in any way.
I enjoyed some of the secondary characters: namely, Boomer and Ida. Boomer is Dash’s friend and is, essentially, a big happy puppy dog. His kindness and friendliness reminded me a little of Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, though with less drama, and I couldn’t help but smile when he popped up in the story. Ida is Lily’s great aunt and a splendid woman. She’s just far enough removed from Lily to be cool, more of an accomplice at times than a motherly guardian. The interview in the library was one of my favorite scenes in the book.
There were moments when involuntary laughter escaped my lips despite my efforts not to draw attention to myself on the plane. Almost all of these bits were in Dash’s chapters. For instance:
“I had always felt that mittens were a few steps back on the evolutionary scale–why, I wondered, would we want to make ourselves into a less agile version of a lobster? But my disdain for mittens took on a new depth when looking at Macy’s (Macy’s's?) holiday offerings.” (p. 29)
In addition to enjoying the rather entertaining mental image provided by those few lines, I love that Dash ponders the possessive of “Macy’s.” It’s just the sort of thing his bookish self would do.
Overall, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was good Christmas-y fun. The story is engaging, as is one of the characters, at least, and there are plenty of good scenes. I’ve not read Cohn and Levithan’s other collaborations, but I would consider giving them a go next time I’m after this sort of book.
If you’ve read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, what did you think? Should I bother with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List? And, in the spirit of the red notebook, what is your best Christmas memory?