Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Date of Publication: December 1st, 2010
Length: 192 pages
From the Publisher: 'You're in your favourite bookstore, scanning the shelves. You reach the section where your favourite author's books reside. And there, nestled between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook. So what do you do? The choice, I think, is obvious: you take down the notebook and open it. And you do whatever it tells you to do.' A New York novel of love, friendship and Christmas.
Oh my goodness, so I’ve been (not-so) patiently waiting for Dash and Lily’s release since July or so – and was even a little bit worried that I’d overhyped it to myself (as I tend to do) and was scared of being let down. Well, I’ve now read the novel twice and wow, was definitely not disappointed from this latest Cohn/Levithan collaboration.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is a charming and festive YA scavenger hunt/teen romance. The story alternates between Dash (snarly, articulate hipster with a love of language) and Lily (an enthusiastic carol-singer, cookie-baker and all-round lover of Christmas, like myself). Whilst I liked reading both characters chapters, I did prefer Lily a teensy-weensy bit more (she shares my enthusiasm for all-things Christmas and has this lovely naivety and hopefulness about her which I found to be really endearing). Not that Dash is less-loveable – though I felt he could come across as a little bit arrogant, he still manages to be this great mix of persnickety and bookishly charming. As usual, the protagonists are aided by a dynamic supporting cast of characters (I’m rather partial to Boomer, though I also thought Langston and Benny were great).
I did find some similar elements to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which I most connected with in Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares:
- The ongoing journey style of the narrative (though instead of being set over one epic night, Dash and Lily covers the just before Christmas and up until New Year) – the way this is told in alternating chapters, which slowly fill in bits of back story
- The hint and promise of a romance, without it necessarily being a 'love story'. Also, without trying to give anything away, I do like that the majority of the novel is spent developing a relationship between the characters without them meeting (I suppose, in a way Norah feels like she knows Nick through the mix-CDs .... am I stretching too far here?)
- Of course there’s also the snark and the spot-on pop culture references – not to mention, the part that make me squee a little, references to other Cohn/Levithan collaborations (again, I’d like to think that maybe Lily goes to the same school as Norah and Caroline, though a few years younger. And that maybe Langston had a thing for Dev before the Jerk-Offs – or did they become Fistful of Assholes, took the NYC hipster-club-scene by storm).
I really enjoyed the correspondence between Dash and Lily, and watching them slowly reveal their secrets and holiday wishes to each other. Then of course, the treasure hunt with the moleskine journal (I’m a total sucker for things like this – just love it!) was brilliant – and getting all these glimpses of a New York Christmas was definitely appealing to me (especially for someone who has never had a white Christmas, the sound of winter coats and snow sounds so nice).
I honestly can’t really think of anything I was unhappy with. Whilst I didn’t have the same ‘oh my gosh, this is changing my world’ reaction I did to Nick and Norah, this is certainly a fun and very sweet read. Fans of the earlier collaborations will certainly enjoy Dash and Lily (and appreciate the familiarity of the Cohn/Levithan dual-narrative style) and I highly recommend Dash and Lily's Book of Dares as your must-read title for the holiday season. Get on it!