Monday, January 14, 2013

Review | Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
YA contemporary
4 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.

Bite-Sized Review
I didn't expect to like this book nearly as much as I did. I loved the characters and the writing from both authors. This book is definitely going to become a Christmas tradition.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-Dash. Dash might be one of my all-time favorite characters. I liked him so much that I actually used the highlighting feature on my Kindle, which I have done approximately once before (to see how it worked). Dash says things like

My parents hadn't spoken to each other in eight years, which gave me a lot of leeway in the determination of factual accuracy, and therefore a lot of time to myself.

I love the phrase "leeway in the determination of factual accuracy." It makes my fond-of-linguistic-quirks brain smile. And then there's

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?

which is just hilarious. I think that's the most I've geeked out over a character in a while, so that's probably enough for you to get the idea. (Dash is awesome.)

-In fairness, I liked the other characters as well. The appropriately-named Boomer, who couldn't seem to say anything without fourteen exclamation points; Mrs. Basil E., who might be the coolest great-aunt anyone has ever had; the titular Lily, who was occasionally exasperating but very relatable. What was even more appealing, though, was how the notebook changed the characters, even those who were only peripherally connected to it. Even though this book is touted as a romance, I think it is really more of a coming-of-age novel, and it does it very well.

-I think my favorite part of this book was actually the beginning, watching Dash and Lily trying to top one another's increasingly absurd dares in the notebook. Although there was also the Thing With The Dog And The Baby, which was just brilliant.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-There was a point somewhere around the middle of the book where the plot slowed and failed to be as fascinating as the rest of the book. A bit later it did pick up again, and then it was back to its captivating self, but for a while there I thought it had peaked way too early.

-I have said before that YA contemporary romance is sort of far from one of my favorite genres, and while this book is an impressive exception to that rule, there were times when I felt it was...excessively YA-contemporary-romance-y. Which, in the book's defense, is what it was supposed to be, so I guess it's not really a fair thing to list against the book. Um...look, a reindeer!

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