Title: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: MIRA Ink (Harlequin UK)
Time taken to read: 6 days
Goodreads 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. 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?
This book was mailed to me three years ago by my amazing friend Kate who lives in England, and since it’s Christmas-themed, I wanted to read it around Christmastime, but every year I’ve forgotten until now. I didn’t expect to love it, since it says right on the back, “Fans of John Green will fall in love” with it, and I am the opposite of a fan of John Green, but I also trust my friend, so I went forth with a good attitude. (As it turns out, she also rated it 3/5.)
As I have said countless times on this blog, I hate books that switch perspectives. Although this book does just that, however, I didn’t even really notice until halfway through, and then I thought to myself, “Huh, this isn’t irritating and I’m not sure why.” After a while I realized it was because the voices were so different, which makes sense because the two perspectives were written by two different authors. Congrats to Cohn and Levithan: I didn’t want to die while reading your multiple-perspective novel. At least, not for that reason.
The characters themselves were fairly irritating. Dash was almost certainly the most pretentious character I’ve ever encountered and possibly the most pretentious in all of fictional history. He used so many obnoxious words that I didn’t know, and I really didn’t feel like cracking open my dictionary, so that ruined parts of the story for sure. You can write an extremely intelligent character without making him completely inaccessible. Lily had much more potential to be a great character, but she confused me. She’s sixteen, but she seems to have the maturity level of a ten-year-old, with her frequent outbursts and temper tantrums. I wondered as I was reading if the authors were going to reveal some kind of psychological condition that made her act this way, but they did not, and I was disappointed. I wanted an explanation for her behavior. All of Lily’s relatives that helped out with the notebook bothered me too. They seemed like they belonged in a fairy tale rather than in realistic fiction.
I think the authors wanted this story to be about two people who are total opposites who are actually destined for each other anyway, but I have a hard time believing that the two of them will stay together much longer after the novel ends. Dash will find Lily completely insufferable, and he’ll probably make Lily depressed as she struggles to see the good in him and can’t find it because he’s obnoxious as hell. I also found it to be completely unrealistic that this notebook thing would have gone as far as it did. Like, even with the help of Lily’s weird relatives, who I can’t believe were willing to put up with this project, I don’t understand how they figured out each other’s clues so easily and managed to successfully transport the notebook. And the adventure would have ended much sooner if they hadn’t happened to have a mutual friend. It all just seemed very unlikely.
I think in the end I gave this a 3/5 instead of 2/5 because despite my confusion about Lily, I really did like her. She seemed cute and sweet and adorable, and I felt the need to protect her. Which probably has something to do with the fact that she acts like a child throughout the book, but I’m still convinced that she has some sort of mental illness that makes her this way, which enhances my need to protect and love her.