Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (Levithan and Cohn)

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AUTHOR: David Levithan, Rachel Cohn
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: October 26, 2010
ISBN: 9780375866593
PAGES: 272
SOURCE: borrowed from friend
GENRE: romance; realistic fiction
GIVE IT TO: HS guys and gals
SUMMARY: A few days before Christmas in Manhattan, quirky sixteen-year old Lily sets out a red moleskine notebook for a stranger to find. That stranger is Dash, a "snarly" teen boy whose parents think he is spending the holidays with the other parent. Through the notebook, Lily and Dash write letters to each other and hide the notebook in places throughout the city, leaving behind clues ("dares") for the other to solve.

READALIKES: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Levithan and Cohn); Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (Matson)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 2/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: mild; three Fu-- but nothing else
  • Sexuality: mild; one chaste kiss
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; major character gets drunk and passes out (and regrets it the next day)

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it. While I probably won't get it, I think it's fine for upper-middle schoolers.

WARNING: The reviews on this site are intended for librarians who need thorough book reviews in order to make informed purchasing decisions. As such, anything below this warning may contain mild spoilers. I try not to give away too much, but I do review the entire book.

WHAT I LIKED: Not much, honestly. It wasn't terrible, but the book did not deliver on my expectations. I liked Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist so much better and appreciated the subtle little reference to Norah's graffiti written on the bathroom wall.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I am not a huge fan of the characters. Generally, everyone speaks as though they just swallowed a dictionary, and while I can see one or two characters who might talk that way, I don't believe that every character should be equally witty and eloquent.

Lily comes off as a whiny baby who screams "shrilly" anytime life hands her something unexpected. She is sixteen, but she acts like she is about ten. While I can understand her reaction when she was eight and her gerbil was killed, I don't get why she would turn tail and run when the "gumshoe in the fedora" turned to look at her. She refuses to speak to her brother when he gets sick on Christmas Eve, yet she gets all romantic about Dash, acting like he's the only one who understands her when she does not even know his name, much less anything else about him.

Brooding Dash isn't really much better. He walks (aimlessly) around Manhattan in the days before Christmas, looking down his nose at the last-minute shoppers. He revels in being alone and genuinely seems to dislike people; I get the feeling that he thinks himself superior to the Christmas Eve shoppers, as though he is above all that. He tells a perfectly nice girl that he is leaving for Sweden tomorrow (a lie) just so she won't invite him to a party. Really, dude? Can you not just be polite and say you appreciate the offer but can't make it? She's being--GASP!--nice to you, and you are so obviously lying for no real reason. For at least half of the book, Dash comes off as a jerk. While he eventually redeems himself, I can't understand why annoyingly-upbeat Lily would want to spend more than five seconds with him.

And what's with their horrible parents? Lily's run off for a 25th anniversary romp over the Christmas holidays, which is apparently impossible any other day of the year. Dash's parents each think he is with the other one, and neither is engaged enough in his life to know that's not the case.

The way that Dash and Lily become internationally famous is completely absurd. I'm surprised the dog wasn't taken from Lily--he nearly killed a baby and knocked several people down. That Dash and Lily were ever even taken to the police station is also ridiculous; anyone with a non-overreacting brain could see that they had saved the baby. Sheesh.

I always love books with alternating voices, but for me, this one is just okay. I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it, either. Parts of it were very dull; other parts were more interesting. I can see myself in a couple of years trying to remember if I read the book or just read a summary. Very forgettable.

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