Tuesday, 7 December 2010

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

Publisher: Knopf
Format: Hardcover
Released: October 26th, 2010
Grade rating: B-

Amazon summary:

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 read this book because of all the rave reviews I'd seen from my fellow bloggers. I liked the sound of the premise, and the authors are two people who I've been meaning to try for a while. I've never read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I realise is a crime against YA, so I thought Dash & Lily's Book of Dares would be a good place to start. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but on reflection, it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be.

What I did really like was how well the authors obviously work, and write, as a team. I haven't read too many collaborative novels, so I'm no authority when it comes to pros and cons of authors writing alternating chapters. However, I do think it worked here, and although I preferred Dash's chapters (written by David Levithan), the flow was pretty seamless between the two. I didn't like Lily's voice as much, though that might just be because Dash outshone her in the character awards, rather than anything to do with Rachel Cohn's writing. I'm still pondering that one.

Where Dash & Lily's Book of Dares suffered, for me, was in its attempt to be clever. Some of the passages just lost me, and I've never to this day encountered two 16-year-olds who talk and think like Dash and Lily. They were very theoretical and advanced in their ideologies, and I personally don't think it worked. I'm a simple person at heart, and this kind of storytelling can grate on my nerves very easily. Again, that's just me as a reader, and I'm sure other readers probably haven't had the same problem.

On the romance side of things, I wanted more, seeing as Cohn and Levithan seem to go hand-in-hand with tales of teen relationships. The ending also left me a bit flat, though it did allow me to imagine what would happen in the future. I like ambiguity as much as the next person, but this time I wanted some semblance of closure.

Now, onto the good stuff. The premise. How cool is that? Leaving dares in a red moleskine notebook and waiting for someone to play along. Loved it. Reading about the Strand bookshop in NYC was also a great bonus, as that's one place I am determined to visit. Miles and miles of books... I need to go there! I also enjoyed meeting all of Lily's odd family members, as they provided much of the book's humour. Of course, I also loved Dash who, as I mentioned above, I much preferred to Lily. There was just something about him, and I'm guessing it was his sharp tongue and happy-go-lucky personality.

While Dash & Lily's Book of Dares perhaps wasn't the book for me, I can see why other readers loved it so much, and I am interested to see what Cohn and Levithan's other books are like. On the plus side, it has a very, very pretty cover. I can't fault that at all!


Luisa at Chicklish said...

Thanks for a really interesting review! I'm listening to the audio book of this at the moment - just a couple of chapters each day. It works really well that way, and it's so festive!

Kate at Read This Book! said...

I just bought this yesterday and from my previous experience reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, I didn't set too high hopes for this one. But I kept my fingers crossed that it would be an entertaining fun Christmas read. After reading a few chapters, I have a feeling I'll love this way more than N&N.

Love your honest review Jenny!

Lori said...

I completely agree with you! This book wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Probably because nothing will live up to Nick & Norah! You really must read it! Levithan is one of my favorite authors! All his books, that I have read are incredible.

Chelsea said...

Great review; I think your opinion on the characters is really interesting - wondering how I'm going to view it, once I read.

I enjoyed Nick and Norah and, more so, Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, as well as one of David Levithan's solo books (Love is the Higher Law), so I'm planning on giving this one a try. I love the premise!

Carla said...

I actually have bought this one too because the cover just makes me do my happy sigh and want to sit in a coffee shop and watch snow swirl past the windows. ALSO, the premise is SO intriguing, i'm interested to see how much I like this one.

and ZOMG......this has given me SUCH a good idea. I am so going to buy some notecards or postcards and just leave them in random books when I go to America next year. leave them little messages. HOW COOL.

Lauren said...

I've been putting off reading this review until I'd finished reading the book, and it's actually fascinating to me how different our experiences of this one were. I adored it. It sounds like you didn't love it for the same reasons I did! And I'm now thinking that since I liked this one more than Nick & Norah, you might like that one more.

Totally agree on the Strand though. It sounds like heaven.

Liddy said...

This book looks SUPER cute :)
I really want to check this one out. Look at the cover though, even if the story isn't worth keeping the cover is!
Awesome review!
Please, if you have time check out my blog?
Thanks! :D

kate.o.d said...

ha! i liked the lily chapters more than the dash...i've not read reviews before today (wanted to wait til i wrote my own review) and it's been really interesting what others have thought.
thanks for your review!

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