Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Published: 5th October 2012
Publisher: Mira Ink
I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you dont, put the book back on the shelf, please.
Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that 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?
I first picked up this novel because I wanted something new to read over Christmas, and I know this book isn’t necessarily a typical Christmas novel (apart from the fact it’s set during the holiday season, it’s not an integral part of the plot) but I’d heard good things about this, and particularly about the work of David Levithan.
This is the first David Levithan book I had read, and I’d heard his writing style is comparable to that of John Green (who I’ve enjoyed reading) and I have to agree with those that say that. He has the same flair for writing quirky, eloquent, yet believable characters. This is also the first time I’d read anything by Rachel Cohn. I didn’t take an instant shine to her writing, but I’ll get on to that a little later.
This book is written in dual narrative form, split between the two protagonists, Dash and Lily. You all know I love me some dual narrative. I love seeing the world they live in from the different perspectives, and being able to hear the telling of events from both sides to see how they differ.
Dash is an articulate, bookish, self-described loner who would rather spend the holiday alone. Lily is the exact opposite, she’s fun loving, outgoing (compared to Dash) and would rather be surrounded by people. I loved Dash’s character immediately, I loved the character voice. He is an articulate character, but he doesn’t cross over to the pretentious which I appreciated. Sometimes I can’t help but roll my eyes at those characters, and I don’t always find them to be believable.
Lily I didn’t take a shine to until towards the end of the novel, for no other reason than she felt really immature for her age and a little bratty in my opinion. She is 16 years old, but for the majority of the book I was surprised by this information. Her voice is young and undeveloped, and her actions at times made me cringe. However, she did come through at the end. I liked her more when she was writing passages in the notebook than when she was narrating too.
In terms of pace and plot, it is a fast paced novel. Everything seems to roll very quickly, almost too quickly at times. I’d have loved for some scenes to be extended particularly towards the end. It felt like the ending was coming too quickly, and I wanted to know more. I suppose that’s more of a testament to how much I liked it, because I did want more. I enjoyed the concept of the notebook and I think this was a clever and interesting way of getting the characters to meet. I also loved that the novel was set in New York, and that the characters had to run around the city to lots of different locations to find the next dare.
Overall, I did quite enjoy this novel. It was the quick read I was looking for over Christmas. I don’t really like putting age limits on reads, but I’d say a younger reader may enjoy this more, in terms of relating to the characters (particularly Lily) but I’m 25 and still enjoyed it. I’m very interested to read more from David Levithan, as I’m writing this I have read two more books (one which is another collaboration with Rachel Cohn) so keep an eye out for those reviews.
I enjoyed the characters, the concept and the dialogue, so for this reason I’d definitely recommend this book.
If you’d like to grab yourself a copy: Amazon link