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Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Paperback – October 11, 2011
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From School Library Journal
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
I really liked Dash. He was a smartass who was a bit of a loner and a grump, though he was also a good guy with a handful of close friends who seemed to really think highly of him.
Lily started out a little too optimistic sugar-and-spice for me, but I liked the character contrast to Dash that she presented. She was also quirky and fun, and she grew on me.
The plot is driven by the passing around of the red notebook and the challenges that Dash and Lily present to one another, which are fun and funny. I liked the pacing of the book - it reads pretty quickly. I finished it in one sitting without getting bored or frustrated with it. It's a pretty light and enjoyable read.
It takes place during the winter holiday season in New York City - so if you are looking for a good Christmas or holiday read, then this one would be a good choice.
I adored both Dash and Lily's voices though I must confess to liking Dash a bit more. Yes he may have been "snarly" and too much of a "hipster" (What is a hipster anyway?) but I loved him in all his Unabridged OED precociousness glory. Lily was also an extremely likable character who was easy to connect with. Do they seem like complete opposites who never would have met without the machinations of the moleskin? Yes, Completely. Do they make a great couple? Undoubtedly.
I loved the concept...I mean really..who doesn't dream of finding a hidden note in a book or bookstore and that leading ne to an amazing guy/gal. *looks around* (I hope it's not just me...well if I weren't already married that is...ahem...eh...moving on...)
The setting of New York at Christmas time almost made me want to hop a train and take a Saturday in the city...and I still might. Yes there are horrid crowds...but it is so worth it:) The supporting characters like Dash's friend Boomer (who I also love...yes lots of love to go around here..) and all of Lily's relatives, especially her aunt, make the book even that much more enjoyable. Dash & Lily's Book of Dare's is perfect lighthearted yet at times quite thought provoking holiday fare. So grab a glass of eggnog and dig in!
Note: Review copy accepted from publisher in exchange for an honest review