Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Title: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Goodreads)
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Published: October 26, 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
(260 pages, hardcover)
Summary: “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 New York Times 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.
My thoughts: This is my first Cohn/Levithan novel, and after completing it, I definitely hope it won't be the last. Dash and Lily are such opposites and yet so perfectly made for each other that I had to wonder how much Levithan and Cohn talked about their characters. Dash is a smart-ass who hates Christmas and isn't exactly what you'd call a 'people-person'. Lily is sweet, shy, and loves Christmas. You'd never pick the two of them to be such a cute couple, but I was rooting for them all the way. I loved the idea of a notebook of dares, and both Dash and Lily are so creative and out-there with their dares that I was totally wishing I would find a notebook like that.
Dash was undoubtedly my favorite character; his smart ass personality and constant use of huge words that only total word nerds know made me smile. I loved how Levithan wrote so intelligently (and a little condescendingly) that I even had to use the dictionary a few times. Plus, even if it's hard to relate to his hatred for Christmas, you gotta love how adamant he was about hating it. He was a nicely rounded, completely unique character that made me laugh out loud several times, and want to kiss him at others. And his refusal to turn down a dare was admirable.
Lily was an easily relatable character; she knows she's the odd girl out, but she's fine with it. I loved her voice, since she wasn't your average protagonist; sometimes you need a girl you can relate to more than admire. While I'm all for strong, brave heroines, seeing a real teen put in a strange and exciting situations was refreshing. I liked how Lily was average-looking and not super-popular. And I love, love, loved her chemistry with Dash. It was undeniable how she felt connected with him (after their first, disastrous meeting) despite their differences. Cohn's writing was nicely realistic and sweetly shy.
The story line was great; I loved the idea of a notebook being passed back and forth with strange, sometimes unthinkable dares. One of my favorite parts of the story was how neither character were tethered by their parents' presences too. Boomer was a great secondary character, since he provided the absent light, comedic relief Dash's somber, sarcastic chapters needed. And I liked Lily's brother and how he wasn't exactly the most caring brother, but he was still nice to Lily. Yohnny and Dov were funny in their couple of parts. I liked how there were gay characters involved (considering Levithan is so prominent in the GLBT lit) and how they were vital to some of the story, but not too involved to take away from Dash and Lily's narratives. The fact that Dash and Lily weren't in love at first sight and that their sudden relationship was anything but smooth gave the novel a real feel and made me connect better with the characters.
Overall, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was a cute, light read with likable, relatable main characters and a story line that can't help but draw you in. Despite its shortness, it was surprisingly deep and detailed. Cohn and Levithan's writing styles fit nicely together and provided a great contrast. Some parts of the story were a little unnecessary and made me roll my eyes, and occasionally Dash's narrative dragged a little. Lily's dramatic demeanor turned me off a little towards the middle. But all in all, the flaws didn't hinder the novel to the point of no return. The novel was still a great read that I'd recommend to teens looking for a quick read.
Cover: 5/5 (I love how the snowflakes are hearts & how it looks like a New York corner)
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4.5 stars


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