For What It's Worth

Monday, December 13, 2010

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

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is 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.  (YA, Fiction)

When reading Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares I can’t think of two people who’s personalities are so different, yet you just know they belong together.
Told in alternating POV’s, Dash is introduced as cynical and snarly, hating the chaos of NYC at Christmas time. Then we meet Lily who adores Christmas and is devastated when her parents decide to take a trip to Fiji leaving the family scattered for the holidays.
Her brother is trying to get some alone time with his new boyfriend, so to get Lily off his back he attempts to help her find a boyfriend of her own. His method? To write a series of clues and dares in Lily’s red Moleskine journal and then place the journal on a shelf at the Strand bookstore. Her brother reasons that the boy who is willing to sift through all the clues is the boy for her and will find his way to Lily.
Dash on a visit to the bookstore takes the bait after reading the first page:

I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back in the shelf, please.”

Following the clues from the journal left in books that range from French Pianism, The Joy of Gay Sex to Fat Hoochie Prom Queen, Dash rises to the challenge decoding the clues and not only solves them but issues a dare of his own.
And so begins the charming back and forth between Dash & Lily. They each leave clues and ask questions about one another that have them revealing parts of themselves that they have never shared with anyone else.
I knew I was going to love this book right away based on the title and the premise. What I wasn’t expecting was the depth of emotions revealed between the two. They are each drawn to the person in the journal, but can the reality live up to that? Dash in particular really tugged at my heartstrings on several occasions.
This back and forth with the journal is fresh and original but the last third of the story descended into slapstick territory. At some point we have to get these two together but how it happens didn’t really match the tone of the rest of the book for me. It was cute, funny and certainly accomplished the task but it was a little over the top. Having said that, it in no way detracted from the overall story.
Loved: Dash & Lily are wise beyond their years and I loved reading both their perspectives. I must visit The Strand bookstore the next time I go to NYC! The Strand felt almost like one of the main characters – there would be no Dash & Lily without The Strand.
Nitpick: The ending felt a little rushed to me after the delightful, deliberate buildup of the first half of the book.
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares takes place at Christmas time in NYC so this is the perfect time to read this one!

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 I must check out the other titles by Cohn and Levithan.

Author's websites: ,
Buy the book! Dash & Lily's Book of Dares


  1. I agree with getting to The Strand. If and when I ever take a trip to NYC that's going to be one of my first stops! Great review.

  2. I have heard lost about this book and with your review, I think I may pick it up.

  3. This sounds totally cute and wonderful. Must read.

  4. This was a good review. I think the things that bothered you would bother me as well. Sounds fun though especially if you're familiar with the City.

  5. It sounds like a good book, especially for this time of year--thank you for the review! :)

  6. I love the sound of this book. *wants*

  7. Dares and coutner-dares sound delightful. :-)

  8. Sounds like perfect reading for next years holiday reading challenge. I love the idea of the notebook, what a novel way to meet men.

  9. @Petty - I would love to see this concept done with adults. This was an adorable story but it would have been great with maybe college age kids.

  10. After reading this book last year I actually did make a trek to NY from my home in Virginia JUST to go see the Strand Bookstore. TOOOTally worth it <3

  11. @anonymous - I went last year too! I could really see the scenes form this book come alive while I was walking though the store. Great place.