Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm just putting it out there that there might be some spoilers in this review. I wouldn't consider them spoilers because they are general characterization that you might have come across while researching if this book is worth reading. But by all means, I said some things that you might not want to know so don't read this if you don't want to anticipate and you want to be surprised. (To those who have read the book, wink wink, did you see what I did there? Haha!)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I'm gonna have a David Levithan marathon starting now. Coming straight off reading The Lover's Dictionary, I was simply amazed by David Levithan's words. So I didn't really know that this book was apparently in my to-read list. But now I know that it's by David Levithan and it's co-written by Rachel Cohn, which I heard great reviews about even if I haven't read any of her books. So off I went, downloaded the ebook and started reading it this afternoon, after my numerous tries of having a wonderful, well-deserved afternoon nap proved futile. I had doubts before reading, because, how can a story about two teenagers daring each other be engaging? Or even mature enough? I mean, who would pass off a notebook and do dares written on it by a complete stranger? I cannot comprehend. I was being close-minded so I was gamely and happily surprised that this book I had so undersold to myself for fear of disappointment actually over-delivered. And it just added to the growing exhibit of evidence that David Levithan is growing to be, rather fast I might add, one of my favorite authors in the YA category.

I read some reviews before doing mine, just to see how other people reacted to it. Most people gave it a four, few gave a five but some gave such low ratings. The reason they gave was: it was so pretentious. Dash, the guy, was described by a character in the book as a snarly hipster wannabe boy. He sounds so pretentious and he's doing that ironic thing too well that he certainly is a hipster. Or okay, to categorize him more definitively, he was a literary hipster I think. Who knows lots of flavors of teas more than boys his age should know and who can verbally spar with anyone. He uses these words we don't normally use, and not because they're obsolete words, it's because they're the hard words that you don't really say. So some people were put off with him but I was enjoying him so much! His sarcasm, his pretentiousness, his love of words and all things literary, his way with words more so, and really his way of knitting words together. Plus, he's snarly. I like snarly fictional guys. Makes for an interesting and great character. Maybe it's just me but I can totally see Dash and I truly think these type of guys exist. Or maybe I'm just enjoying I Just Want My Pants Back, a show about twenty-something hipsters that their hipsterness rubbed off on me. Ha!

Now, onto Lily. I love Lily. She is overly optimistic and pure and delightful and yet she is the "weird girl" at school. Huh you might say, when she's the captain of the soccer team. Pretty contradicting attributes but it never felt wrong. The characterization never felt wrong, everything just fell right. Unlike Dash's literary hipster ways, Lily was smart and also has her way with words though not as adept as Dash. She's such an intellectual person, and she's also just a sixteen year-old who's never been kissed, been under a overprotective family, whose pet gerbil was killed by a classmate's cat. She's very easy to relate to, for me, and I think that made me enjoy the book more than I probably should. I get her feelings, I get everything. We can be BFFs, can I just say? Haha!

The other characters aren't as fleshed out but I must say I greatly enjoyed great-aunt Ida, Langston, Mark and Boomer. Even Grandpa and his crew were lovely. I loved them all. Langston made me want to have an older brother, Boomer to have a friend since childhood, great-aunt Ida to have that cool great-aunt and Grandpa to be this overprotective grandparent. I wasn't even irritated one bit at Sofia, not because I didn't view her as a threat (well, I really didn't view her as a threat), but because she was like this enlightened one. It seems like she just gets everything, in that a mere-teenager-understand-life-and-love-kinda way.

Anyway, as for the book itself, it was written from both the boy's perspective and the girl's too. David Levithan wrote Dash's parts while Rachel Cohn wrote Lily's. This is not something new yet it was very thrilling to read. Knowing them by how they perceive Christmas, the one despising it and the one reveling in it, by how they speak, how they think. But this is just proof that formula is not always bad, if you use it right. The book was a page-turner for me, as I would have finished it faster if I wasn't tasked to cook dinner. I counted the hours it took me to prepare dishes, the hours I was forced to be away with these two kids. I generally love the he-said-she-said type of books or movies for that matter because the readers know everything the other character has yet to know. That you know they were so close then and yet so far since they didn't really meet. That you know that they will eventually meet and you were just waiting for it to happen, to just enjoy that feeling when it finally happened, and more. I was just a bit sad when the book ended because I was selfish and grabby and I want more MORE MOAAAARRR of Dash and Lily. I love them so much and I for once, really wanted them to be together, not thinking at any moment that someone doesn't deserve someone or that someone is so irritating. The ending was not disappointing and it was rather cute, yet it was disappointing in a way for my heart because I really wanted more of Dash's snarliness and pretentiousness and Lily's good cheer. I want to read them talk and exchange barbs and kiss (heehee). I want a sequel! Haha!

All in all, I recommend you to read it! You see, you'd love this book if you're like me, a sappy, cheesy girl. The one who makes squeaky dolphin noises at moments where your heart is supposed to flutter, giddy in excitement and thrill and happiness. But if you're not that, well, maybe this book isn't for you. It dabbles on a lot of topics, yes, the meaning of life and love, some divorce issues, how a family molds a person, but all in all, it's all about this game "initiated" by Lily, which Dash gamely accepted, that led to feeling up Santa Claus, watching movies you don't like, to leaving your overly large boot in a club, and how these two sixteen year-olds with nothing better to do, started corresponding and pouring their hearts out to each other without knowing one another. That seems a pretty intense connection to me, to bare your self to this stranger who has no name, no face. To quote Dash: "Why is it so much easier to talk to a stranger? Why do we feel we need that disconnect in order to connect?". So I suggest you take time to read this book, to get to know these two strangers, that is before they started writing to each other in a red Moleskine notebook.

*Originally posted last April 9, 2012

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