Book Review #33: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Chapter’s bookstore
Synopsis: “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? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: I realize I may have cookies thrown at me by saying this, but this book was a disappointment for me. After hearing for months just how great this book is, I had been expecting something magical. Instead, what I got was some of the magic Ron Weasley could achieve his first two years at Hogwarts. There was something there, you could tell the authors were trying, but it just wasn’t enough to garner that spark.
The concept of this book is different, which is why it sounded promising. Who wouldn’t want to meet someone at a bookstore or, even better, through the pages of a notebook? It’s so unlikely, which of course would make the romantics in us go all sigh-ey and smiley. Dash & Lily had potential. Potential as a cute, simple story of two lost NYC teens who find friendship and love through passing a notebook between them throughout the city. And my love for New York City made me excited to read their dares and see all my favourite sights. (Side note: I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Strand before. It’s at the top of my to-see list now.) But sadly, the concept and location were the only things I actually loved about the book.
The characters were…meh. I just couldn’t connect with them. They both were annoying and didn’t speak like normal teenagers. (I have a few things I’d like to discuss with you all about this, which I’m saving for some discussion posts for future Thursdays. So just sit tight.) Dash was this moody, pretentious boy who couldn’t seem to put himself in other people’s shoes. Lily, for all her supposed brains, was a self-centred girl who tried too hard to be “unique.” I mean, how dare her parents want a holiday away? Instead of thinking how great it is for them, she instead chooses to ruin the holidays for everyone else around her. And the secondary characters were all just one-dimensional I found, except maybe for Boomer. He at least showed some depth every now and then that even caught Dash off guard. But the rest were just blah. Priya wasn’t necessary. I would have liked to see the development between Lily and her childhood nemesis more because the jump from A to B just didn’t work for me. And I think I liked Sophia the most. Also. I’m tired of the friendships in YA books between a seemingly smart person and a seemingly stupid/immature person. I see those friendships far too often and it’s just annoying now. Why can’t they both me on the same level? Why did Levithan have to make Boomer act like a child? To make Dash seem wiser? Ugh.
But the thing that annoyed me the most was the amount of wordiness there was. I love words. I do. I love big words and small words, old words and modern words. But when I come across sentences that try too hard at being “smart” and end up sounding like something like this, “It’s not as if I’ve come to take her to the sock hop, or ask her to go double-spooning in some tapioca… my position on dillying and dallying, which right now is chaste with a chance for inveterate lust”… well, my mind grows tired. And this isn’t just a one-time thing either. It’s everywhere. The authors try so hard at making their characters unique and charming by injecting complex words with the hope of being endearing to bookworms. And it just falls flat.
I don’t want to bash this book because there were some sweet aspects to it: I loved Great-aunt Ida and Lily’s grandpa. The stark contrast of modernity and traditional between the two were funny, tugging at either sides of Lily.
But yeah. I can’t really say much else about the book.
My Rating: 2.5/5
Favourite Quotes: “You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint—ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy—all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know—this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtships. They want to know immediately.”
“I’ve always resented Hermione, because I wanted to be her so badly and she never seemed to appreciate as much as I thought she should that she got be her. She got to live at Hogwarts and be friends with Harry and kiss Ron, which was supposed to happen to me.”
“There are just lots of possibilities in the world…I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn’t happen. Because something else great might happen in between.”
“I don’t think meaning is something that can be explained. You have to understand it on your own. It’s like when you’re starting to read. First, you learn the letters. Then, once you know what sounds the letters make, you use them to sound out words. You know that c-a-t leads to cat and d-o-g leads to dog. But then you have to make that extra leap, to understand that the word, the sound, the “cat” is connected to an actual cat , and that “dog” is connected to an actual dog. It’s that leap, that understanding, that leads to meaning. And a lot of the time in life, we’re still just sounding things out. We know the sentences and how to say them. We know the ideas and how to present them. We know the prayers and which words to say in what order. But that’s only spelling.”