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Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Paperback – October 11, 2011
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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About the Author
Rachel’s previous books include Gingerbread, Shrimp, Cupcake, You Know Where to Find Me, and Very LeFreak. David’s previous books include Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Are We There Yet?, Wide Awake, Love Is the Higher Law, and How They Met, and Other Stories.
For more information about Rachel and David, you can find them at RachelCohn.com and DavidLevithan.com, respectively. You may also catch them in the aisles at the Strand.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
You're in your favorite bookstore, scanning the shelves. You get to the section where a favorite author's books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook.
What do you do?
The choice, I think, is obvious:
You take down the red notebook and open it.
And then you do whatever it tells you to do.
It was Christmastime in New York City, the most detestable time of the year. The moo-like crowds, the endless visits from hapless relatives, the ersatz cheer, the joyless attempts at joyfulness--my natural aversion to human contact could only intensify in this context. Wherever I went, I was on the wrong end of the stampede. I was not willing to grant "salvation" through any "army." I would never care about the whiteness of Christmas. I was a Decemberist, a Bolshevik, a career criminal, a philatelist trapped by unknowable anguish--whatever everyone else was not, I was willing to be. I walked as invisibly as I could through the Pavlovian spend-drunk hordes, the broken winter breakers, the foreigners who had flown halfway across the world to see the lighting of a tree without realizing how completely pagan such a ritual was.
The only bright side of this dim season was that school was shuttered (presumably so everyone could shop ad nauseam and discover that family, like arsenic, works best in small doses . . . unless you prefer to die). This year I had managed to become a voluntary orphan for Christmas, telling my mother that I was spending it with my father, and my father that I was spending it with my mother, so that each of them booked nonrefundable vacations with their post-divorce paramours. My parents hadn't spoken to each other in eight years, which gave me a lot of leeway in the determination of factual accuracy, and therefore a lot of time to myself.
I was popping back and forth between their apartments while they were away--but mostly I was spending time in the Strand, that bastion of titillating erudition, not so much a bookstore as the collision of a hundred different bookstores, with literary wreckage strewn over eighteen miles of shelves. All the clerks there saunter-slouch around distractedly in their skinny jeans and their thrift-store button-downs, like older siblings who will never, ever be bothered to talk to you or care about you or even acknowledge your existence if their friends are around . . . which they always are. Some bookstores want you to believe they're a community center, like they need to host a cookie-making class in order to sell you some Proust. But the Strand leaves you completely on your own, caught between the warring forces of organization and idiosyncrasy, with idiosyncrasy winning every time. In other words, it was my kind of graveyard.
I was usually in the mood to look for nothing in particular when I went to the Strand. Some days I would decide that the afternoon was sponsored by a particular letter, and would visit each and every section to check out the authors whose last names began with that letter. Other days, I would decide to tackle a single section, or would investigate the recently unloaded tomes, thrown in bins that never really conformed to alphabetization. Or maybe I'd only look at books with green covers, because it had been too long since I'd read a book with a green cover.
I could have been hanging out with my friends, but most of them were hanging out with their families or their Wiis. (Wiis? Wiii? What is the plural?) I preferred to hang out with the dead, dying, or desperate books--used we call them, in a way that we'd never call a person, unless we meant it cruelly. ("Look at Clarissa . . . she's such a used girl.")
I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler.
On this particular day, I decided to check out a few of my favorite authors, to see if any irregular editions had emerged from a newly deceased person's library sale. I was perusing a particular favorite (he shall remain nameless, because I might turn against him someday) when I saw a peek of red. It was a red Moleskine--made of neither mole nor skin, but nonetheless the preferred journal of my associates who felt the need to journal in non-electronic form. You can tell a lot about a person from the page she or she chooses to journal on--I was strictly a college-ruled man myself, having no talent for illustration and a microscopic scrawl that made wide-ruled seem roomy. The blank pages were usually the most popular--I only had one friend, Thibaud, who went for the grid. Or at least he did until the guidance counselors confiscated his journals to prove that he had been plotting to kill our history teacher. (This is a true story.)
There wasn't any writing on the spine of this particular journal--I had to take it off the shelf to see the front, where there was a piece of masking tape with the words DO YOU DARE? written in black Sharpie. When I opened the covers, I found a note on 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 on the shelf, please.
The handwriting was a girl's. I mean, you can tell. That enchanted cursive. Either way, I would've endeavored to turn the page.
So here we are.
1. Let's start with French Pianism.
I don't really know what it is,
but I'm guessing
nobody's going to take it off the shelf.
Charles Timbrell's your man.
Do not turn the page
until you fill in the blanks
(just don't write in the notebook, please)
- Lexile Measure : 860L
- Grade Level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 7.7 ounces
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0375859551
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375859557
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.61 x 8.25 inches
- Reading level : 12 and up
- Publisher : Ember (October 11, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I picked this up after reading ‘Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List’ and jumped in without any prior knowledge, lucky I did, because if I knew it was a Christmas themed novel I may not have bothered. Usually Holiday Season novels are cheesy or full of saccharine reminiscing and good will. But ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ bucked the trend and left me chortling in my chair.
This is an innocent little book, with a scavenger hunt through the streets of New York, pitting both Dash and Lily into some strange places and meeting equally obscure people. I loved the cast of characters, and while it amused me to no end the antics they got up to, in the back of my mind I was always concerned about their safety. It is mentioned in the book, but the lack of adult supervision allows them to step out of their comfort zones and makes for an interesting read.
Both Dash and Lily have their own amount of quirk, and while I did not relate to either character all that much, I did relate to the dares they offered up. It reminded me of some of the things I got up to with my friends in high school.
‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ is a light read – I completed it in an afternoon – with a witty narrative that had me laughing many, many times. I would rate it above ‘Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List’ just from the sheer light-hearted comedy which runs from cover to cover. It is, on the most part predictable, but the adventures these characters had come out of left field… I kept thinking what crazy thing they will do next.
Recommended for a younger audience and readers who want to reminisce over their silly teen years, or want a sweet Christmas tale.
I recently had a conversation with one of my students, a teenage boy who just broke up with his girlfriend and was feeling bad about it. He said, "Everybody's a stranger, and always will be." This seemed to frighten him. I told him I was going to loan him Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. "It's all about that," I said. "But it still manages to have a happy ending."
As our story opens, it's Christmas time in the Big Apple, and Dash has fooled each of his divorced parents into thinking he's with the other one so he can spend Christmas in surly Grinch-like solitude. Well, perhaps not solitude, though he's definitely a young Grinch in the making: Dash discovers a red notebook incongruously shelved in a grand used bookstore called the Strand. (It's real! With an alleged eighteen miles of books.) The notebook challenges Dash to a little scavenger hunt in the bookstore, managing to embarrass him almost immediately. Dash picks up the gauntlet and returns the favor by issuing a dare of his own. Cynical Dash is pleased to realize that the notebook is obviously from an equally sardonic teenage girl trying to see if she can meet her male counterpart.
Only it's not. Dash doesn't know this for pages on end, but the girl, Lily, didn't start the notebook, though she does quickly enter into the spirit of things and keep it going. The notebook is actually the brainchild of her older brother, who is hoping to keep her entertained and out of his hair so he can enjoy spending the holidays with his new guy. (Their parents have disappointed Lily by going on a second honeymoon.)
Lily is about as far from a Grinch as you can get, a starry-eyed idealist who love-love-loves Christmas. She even drops her atheism annually so she can sing the religious Christmas carols with proper enthusiasm. While she's a little off the wall, Lily is not a major risk-taker, partly because she has a huge, overly protective extended family.
Yet this is not exactly a book about opposites attracting, either. It's more the story of assumptions and yearnings, the way no one can ever be the fulfillment of another person's romantic daydreams. You'll find that Dash is quite the philosopher-prince. His musings get a little over-the-top in spots, evoking the spirits of thirty-something authors past and present--but it all pays off, I assure you.
I'm afraid I'm making the book sound serious, whereas it's just as much a cheerily frenetic sleigh ride through New York City. The dares in the red notebook are creative and often funny, many involving field trips to urban landmarks. There's a spirit of friendly one-upsmanship, just as you would expect from a series of dares. For example, after Lily sends mall-hating Dash to Macy's at the height of the holiday shopping season to look for reindeer gloves, he retaliates by making her go to a matinee showing of a film called Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer with a horde of moms and toddlers.
Speaking of movies, the absolute funniest thing in the book, hands down, is the spoof of a Pixar movie and how Dash and Lily respond separately to having seen it. I laughed my head off.
Cohn and Levithan give us dog walking, soccer goal-keeping, wax celebrities, ex-girlfriends, snowball fights, militant mommies, police cars, and Internet video scandals of the baby-catching variety. Not to mention marvelous secondary characters, including an extremely cool Bohemian great-aunt.
This is teen romance writ large, irresistibly so. It's romance over-scripted, over-analyzed, and yet, somehow, played out like a nice long game of Monopoly between two basically nice people. Seems pretty apt in today's world. I give you: Dash & Lily. Read their Book of Dares. And then watch for Book Two--apparently the authors fell hard for these characters, too, and are planning to make it a series. They've got a great cast to work with! [Update: Now I'm hearing there's no sequel planned. I wish there were!]
Note for Worried Parents: You'll probably be concerned about the occasional use of the F word and a few crude remarks from the teenage boys. Also, there's some teen drinking, though the results are not appealing. It's mentioned here and there that Lily's brother and his new boyfriend are sleeping together, but Dash and Lily don't have sex with anyone in this book.
Top reviews from other countries
I loved the setting of New York at Christmas, the descriptions are just like those from a movie. In fact, this would make a great movie. I liked Dash and Lily but definitely had a soft spot for Boomer and Grandpa and all the secondary characters helping Dash and Lily along their way - let's face it , they know some cool people!
I liked that the chapters switched between Dash and Lily's perspectives, getting to know them better through their thoughts in the red notebook and their insecurities and hopes.
Having said all that, I didn't award 5* because of the way these pair speak. I mean these are the most eloquent couple of teenagers you'll come across, just like the two from The Fault in our Stars. Words and phrases that I can't ever imagine using in my forties let alone young adults. I don't quite get why the authors have them speak like this, I know that they're intelligent and bookish but have them speak like they're from their own generation.
Overall a highly enjoyable read that reminded me of You've Got Mail and Serendipity which pose the question can the real thing ever be as good as the expectation?
Both Dash and Lily, our protagonists who alternate POVs between the authors, have been left alone over the Christmas period for different family reasons. This leads Lily to leave a notebook in one of the biggest second-hand book stores in NYC. A notebook full of riddles and dares. Dash and Lily pass the notebook between them, daring them to do outrageous things but never actually meeting each other. Through just this little notebook, the pair get to know each other personally. Sounds romantic, right? Well, that’s what I thought. I thought this would be a super-cute, fluffy read to settle me into a real Christmassy mood, and while it did make me feel Christmassy, it didn’t make me feel gooey and angst-y with the power of a strong couple (in other words, for the geeks like me out there, a ship).
Dash and Lily seem to have a lot of chemistry at first, but it seems to fizzle out pretty quickly. The dares aren’t really as crazy as it seemed to be - every dare was mildly embarrassing and/or tame. But the dares weren’t really what the book was about, despite being in the title. It was more about how Dash and Lily seemed to open up to each other through this notebook, and a great big build up to their meeting… BUT DAMMIT, COHN AND LEVITHAN! The meeting sucked. It felt like I was on the tip top of a roller-coaster, right before the dip, only to have it break down and have to be removed from the ride. It was so disappointing.
Dash and Lily themselves as characters were as mild as the plot. Dash was overly pretentious, and for Christ’s sake, he wore a fedora. A fedora, people. Lily isn’t bad much herself, just the way that Cohn writes her makes her sound more like she’s 11 rather than being 16. Both of the characters made major effed-up choices somewhere a little past the middle of the book, and it really did make me feel frustrated proving that I did enjoy reading this because I was emotionally invested… But it wasn’t really enough, personally. With a book, I like to feel connected to the story and characters and in this, I just knew the ending would be happy in some way so I kinda stopped caring. The happy ending would be a good thing if the romance had at least had a tiny iota of chemistry… But, no.
I really did enjoy the setting of this book - NYC is a personal favourite, although overdone, place of mine in books. It’s so beautiful, and normally it can be a bit cliché especially for romance novels to be set in NY, but with Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares it really worked well. It added to the great Christmas and New Year’s vibe you get from this book and made it more interesting to imagine in your head, too.
Pacing in this book was a little slow, it took too much of a time for Dash and Lily to actually meet and there were some really needless plot additions that just felt like fillers to me. There were also a bumload of characters to try and keep up with - crazy amounts of relatives and names and blaaaah to remember about everything and everyone. But I suppose Christmas is a very family-themed time, so the abundance of characters does sit well.
Overall, this book should totally be read in Christmas if you have the chance - but it’s probably not the best holiday themed read you can get out there!
The writting by two authors is a nice ploy and makes the male/female chapters feel more authentic. It thankfully doesn't leave the book feeling disjointed, both authors are heading in the same direction with their teen characters. Ah yes the characters....Dash is a fairly worldly, bolshy, snappy teen. He's seen things, done things can look after himself. All in all he doesn't sound great. However he reads, he cares about words he has the nicest best friend (Boomer) in the world who is his most redeeming feature and he is willing to search for Lily.
Lily on the other hand is naive to the point of improbability, sheltered and protected she sometimes appears about 10 years old rather than the 16 she is meant to be. In fact my main problem with this novel is how improbable Lily is. While she is clearly intelligent and resourceful she is also unbelievable. Plus I hate how characters who are 'unpopular' and geeky suddenly become popular at the end of books. I may even have rolled my eyes while reading.
So why the four stars? Because it is a good novel, well written, interesting and if you are of a romantic disposition you'll probably find it all very sweet and lovely. If you're feeling more cynical you may want to hurl the book across the room.