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

Book Review Dash & Lily Book of Dares

Title: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: October 26, 2010
Extent: 260 pages
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

“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?

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.


Can I just say… Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares has one of the cutest meet-cute I’ve ever read in the history of cute meet-cutes. Two teenagers who connect through a red notebook found randomly in the middle of the largest bookstore in New York! I’ve been to The Strand, and I can easily see how that setting fits this story. 😀

This book is narrated in two perspectives: Dash’s, which I assume to be written by Levithan, and Lily’s, which I assume to be written by Cohn. Generally, this alternating point of view works well, telling their stories in two parts and also furthering the plot. Both characters sound different to each other, so I consider this a success.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really taken by either of them, which is a shame given that this book is very character-centric. Dash is snarky, witty, and very much a ‘hipster’. He wants a dictionary for Christmas. His vocabulary is pretty much out of this world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if he didn’t try to remind us over and over again of that fact. As it is, he came across as overly pretentious and edgy, and that stopped me from actually liking him.

“I mean, like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly who you want her to be. The person you think you will love the most. And every girl you are with gets measured against this girl in your head.”

Lily is a different matter altogether. If ever there were sugar, spice, and everything nice personified, Lily would be it. She was much too… one-dimensional for my tastes. The authors have painted us a picture here of a super sweet, super innocent, and super adorable girl who is IN LOVE WITH CHRISTMAS (all caps), and that made up 100% of her identity, which made her boring. :/

I’m also not totally in love with the plot. The first few chapters picked up really quickly and really captured my attention, but past that point, everything slowed down and sent me into a somewhat torturous well of ugh, why don’t they just meet already. It stopped being utterly enjoyable and started being a bit of a drag.

Additionally, Dash and Lily embodied what to me is the nightmare of online dating: the two have tons of chemistry on paper, but almost none at all in real life. Dash was a bit too judgmental and self-righteous for free-spirited Lily, and Lily was too naive and—dare I say it—immature for gloomy, broody Dash. They just didn’t work, at least not in my perspective.

“We believe in the wrong things, that’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.”

Yet there were things that kept me reading Dash and Lily’s until the end. The idea of the book and the dares was fun, and would totally work as part of a treasure-hunt Christmas date. The chase through New York reminded me of my time there and made me feel utterly nostalgic; I could really picture the scenery. The side characters were adorable, too—supportive friends and family are always a plus. ❤

Despite its shortcomings, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is a quick, relatively enjoyable Christmas read. It doesn’t pack a punch, but not all books need to.

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