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

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How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: Since the book is vaguely winter holiday-themed, this seemed like the right time to read it.

How would I rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.

My Summary: Right before Christmas and based on advice from her brother, Lily leaves a red moleskine in a bookstore with a series of tasks in an effort to find someone worth dating or at least spending time with. But when Dash finds it and they begin communicating regularly, both are left to wonder… Will they be right for one another? Are their dares part of a game or something more serious? Is love ever really about two people instead of one person and their idealized version of someone else? And can a real person ever possibly be as interesting or understanding as their written words?

My Review: I’m not overly fond of the collaborations these two authors create together, so I was really shocked and pleased by how wonderful this book was. Dash and Lily were really fascinating teens, and the somewhat fictionalized metropolis they live in was really refreshing and very comical.

Both Dash and Lily have a need throughout the book to be exciting, unique, and offbeat for the sake of appearences and at the expense of sharing their more authentic selves. Sharing, of course, is what they want to do but what they’re terrified of doing since they’ve both have always found to be too risky and too hurtful in the long run.  Dash wants to be needed by someone and prove his worth through expanding his vocabulary. Lily wants to break away from the role assigned to her by her large and very protective family in order to be something other than everyone’s little overly emotional sister. They both long to be seen as cooler than they are, but ultimately what they wanted was to be seen. Through writing to one another and proposing various dares, they come to understand themselves a little bit better too.

Set in downtown New York, the various scenes and settings including hanging out at the Strand, dealing with the hazards of shopping at Macy’s two days before Christmas, getting to build Muppets at FAO Schwartz, and getting in trouble with angry mothers for throwing snowballs at their kids were quite entertaining and rich in detail.

I absolutely loved the made up movies in this book, which were Gramma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, the horror movie, and Collation, a Pixar film about a stapler in love with a piece of paper.  I really wish both of films existed and were playing in a theater near me. I remain hopeful that someone at Pixar will read this book and decides to make Collation a reality if nothing else.

Both Cohn and Levithan have a propensity for being unnecessarily quirky and clever for the sake of making sure readers know just quirky and clever both of them are. Happily both of them seemed to not bother with doing so nearly as much this time around, which allowed the book to be quirky and clever in a natural way. Rather than dreading the inevitabilty of it, I actually find myself hoping Cohn and Levithan will write another book together very soon.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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