Monday, 1 April 2013

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

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Series: None
Pages: 304
Publisher: Mira Ink
Release date: 5th October 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Thanks to Mira Ink for my review copy

Goodreads synopsis:
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? 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.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is a YA contemporary novel set at Christmas in New York, and because it's set during the festive period, that was when I had intended to read it. However, things don't always work out the way you plan them, and so I ended up reading this in March (but it was snowing, so I guess the weather was good for it!). I'm telling you this because I want to make it clear that although this is a fairly festive novel, it isn't exclusively so, and I enjoyed it just as much now as I think I would have done reading it at Christmas. In fact, reading it later in the year is nice - it extends the Christmas cheer into the rest of the year!

My initial impression of this book was very good. The chapters alternate between Dash and Lily, the two protagonists, and the opening chapter introduces us to Dash. Straight away I had a clear sense of his character; I knew that he was adventurous and inquisitive (he found the red notebook, and immediately opened it and starting following the dares inside), and that he doesn't like Christmas ('It was Christmastime in New York City, the most detestable time of the year'). This is a good start, but it's not all there is to his character. As we see more of him and his chapters, I learnt more about his character, and although I wasn't particularly endeared to him at first (mostly due to his Christmas-hating tendencies, in all honesty), I gradually started to fall for his character. He's witty, sarcastic and loyal, and I really enjoyed getting to see his character change as he and Lily interacted more and more through the notebook.
The alternate chapters to Dash's then, are Lily's. Lily seems to be, at first, Dash's total opposite. Whereas one of the first things we learn about him is that he hates Christmas, the very first thing we learn about Lily is that she loves it - in fact, it's almost as though she lives and breaths it. We soon learn that she's an avid caroller, so much so that she organisers her own carolling society, and that ever since she was little, she's kept a journal in red moleskin notebooks - the very same that Dash finds in the bookstore in the first chapter. Lily is a very sweet and positive character, and I liked her almost instantly - I think it's just all her Christmas cheer that was rubbing off on me! She was very funny - perhaps not in a witty way, like Dash is (although she is some of the time) - but she made me laugh all the same. At the beginning of the book, although she was confident in some areas (like her carolling), she definitely needed a confidence boost in others (like meeting boys), and see Langston, her brother, gives her that push and convinces her to write a series of dares in one of her red moleskins, and to leave it in the bookstore for a boy to pick up.
Her Christmas this year is different - her parents are away in Fiji, and her brother is busy with his new boyfriend, Benny, so Lily is left to celebrate the Christmas period on her own - that is, until Dash takes her up on her dares, and they start their pen and paper conversation that takes them all over New York.
I loved their interaction through the notebook, and just like both of them, I was eagerly anticipating what was going to be written in the notebook next, where they would find it, and the kind of dares that they would both have to do. It was a really interesting and unique way for the two characters to interact, and I enjoyed every twist and turn in their written journey.
But what I really wanted to see was the two of them meeting for the first time - in person. Obviously this was not destined to go smoothly - there wouldn't be much to the story if they met and lived happily ever after - but part of me still hoped! Despite little hiccups along the way though, I really loved the way that Dash & Lily's story came to an end (at least the story that we see in the novel - I have a feeling their story will go on far beyond the pages!).

Dash & Lily's story was exactly the kind I needed at the moment; it was light-hearted, funny, witty, intelligent (but still an easy read), optimistic and festive. It was exactly the kind of pick-me-up I needed, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't quite what I expected from the story - which I can't really explain - but I enjoyed it all the same. I loved Dash & Lily's characters, and I also enjoyed the characters that surrounded them, especially Boomer (Dash's best friend), Langston (Lily's brother) and Mrs. Basil E. (Lily's nicknamed great aunt). The story was really cute, and it kept me gripped all the way through.
I definitely recommend this one to any fan of YA contemporary (or contemporary in general, because I think it's such a clever and witty book that readers of any age would enjoy it), whether it's Christmastime or not! A seriously enjoyable read.


Jess Ramos said...

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was different from what I usually read but in a good way. It was innocent fun love.

mariusreads said...

First of all, I DIDN'T want to read this book since the cover is really horrible. But after reading your review, I might actually give this one a try!

~ Marius @ Forever YA

littlebookstar said...

I loved Dash & Lily's! I love how you could totally feel the Christmas atmosphere. Like you said, even though it's not Christmas anymore the book still brought the Christmasy atmosphere. :) I agree how it was such a light and fun read and how the characters were witty. :) Nice review!

Little Book Star

erin said...

Sounds fun! Thanks for the great review!

Dazzling Mage said...

I really enjoyed this book- mostly because I want it to happen to! But yeah, initially, both characters were a little hard to swallow just because they were total extremes, and then total opposites of each other. Still, I think I loved them by the end of it.

Great review!

Vero G. Jimenez said...

This book I was intrigued, but I was not sure, now I want it, sounds like a cool book

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