Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Dash And Lily’s Book Of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan


3.75 stars

“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 & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. 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?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I’ve always been keen on reading Andrea Cohn and David Leviathan’s joint projects, even if I haven’t read their individual novels. It’s rare in YA (not just YA, actually) for a male and female author to join forces and create an adventure together, and Cohn and Leviathan’s writing is truly a match made in heaven. This back-and-forth concept probably wouldn’t have worked as well as it did in the hands of lesser-skilled authors, and while it has its flaws, Dash And Lily makes for a pretty sweet read.

Dash and Lily are two seemingly lonely teenagers living in New York, both of them facing difficult situations during Christmas time. As Lily reluctantly places a red moleskine notebook filled with dares in the local bookstore’s shelf jokingly to attract Mr. Right, Dash unknowingly picks it up and marks the beginning of an interesting, pen-pal-like relationship. But as this game goes on, Dash and Lily realize their longing to meet each other in person — while dreading it simultaneously. Will the boy and girl in the notebook be the same in real-life? Or something neither of them had expected?

The story picks up immediately, and actually is quite fast-paced. It certainly has a festive, bright, quirky air to it, despite the unusual yet funny scenarios the characters stumble into. I’m happy I read this in December, it definitely helps me get in the Christmas-y mood. The themes throughout the book mostly surround the different ways of developing love for people you barely know — yet seem to connect with more than anyone else. Will you ever find the “person in your head”, or is this person simply a mirage of your true desires and dreams in life? And when you think you’ve found the person, is it truly meant to be? Will the “person in your head” ever be placed above others that you meet? These themes are actually quite complex, and while they weren’t explored to such a weighty level, the amount present was enough for this fluffy, fairytale-like novel. Cohn and Leviathan delved deep enough into the subject without taking away the goofiness of the basic premise, which was greatly appreciated. My only complaint concerning the overall plot would be the unrealistic scenes prevalent throughout the entire book. While I understood it was all in good fun, these scenarios dragged on to an unbelievable extent, almost reminding of the events in a John Green novel.

Dash and Lily themselves are pretty likable characters. It’s understandable if you can’t connect with them beyond a measure, but they were so hilarious and relatable in their own right, it’s hard not to love them. Although, I will say that both characters are far too pretentious and “wise beyond their years” to be actual seventeen-year-olds. Every now and then some ridiculous commentary about a random aspect in life would show up and take up a long-ass paragraph, and it’s more than a little off-putting. Besides the protagonists, the secondary characters were about the same though I really enjoyed the relationships presented. Dash and his ex-girlfriend Sophia hold my favorite relationship in the book, and I thought the small yet poignant conversations they had, as well as their easing, mutual friendship elevated the novel’s seriousness in a very subtle way.

Dash and Lily’s Book Of Dares is the perfect book to get into during the holidays, and if you’re looking for something cute and John Green-y, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to read an Andrea Cohn and David Leviathan novel, but I’m certainly looking forward to reading their individual and joint projects soon. 🙂