Rummanah Aasi
I absolutely love the books that Rachel Cohn and David Levithan wrote together. Their first collaborative young adult novel, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, is an unconventional romantic, whimsical, comedy that was layered with music and self discovery. The movie of the same name starred Michael Cera and Kat Dennings is a great book adaptation (yep, I really liked it as much as the book). Their second book, Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, explored love, loss, friendship, and identity amongst college students. Now, these two fabulous authors have come together and written a third book, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, which was released just a couple of months ago and I loved this one a bit more than the other two.
  It is fascinating to see Cohn and Levithan's literary collaboration unfold right before your eyes. For each of these books, Cohn and Levithan took a character and wrote a chapter. With no planning or discussion in between, they sent each other story installments one chapter at a time. The plot twists or surprising connections the other would initiate or expand came spontaneously. For avid readers like me, maybe more so for aspiring writers, their novels are an example of how a writing partnership should be: both authors passionate about their characters and writing. What more can you ask for?

Description: It's Christmas time in NYC. Dash has fooled each of his divorced parents into thinking he's with the other one so he can spend Christmas alone. When he stops by a big used bookstore called The Strand, he discovers a red notebook incongruously shelved in the book stacks. (By the way, there is a real bookstore called The Strand that Cohn frequently visited in her youth. It apparently has eighteen miles of books.) The notebook challenges Dash to a little scavenger hunt in the bookstore, which he immediately accepts. The challenge manages to embarrass him in the process. Refusing to be the only one who gets flustered in the challenge, Dash returns the favor by issuing a dare of his own. Cynical Dash is pleased to  find a similar minded teenage girl like him. He starts to fall for the girl, Lily, without really meeting her and vice versa. What happens if Dash and Lily really meet face to face? Will they be able to meet their each others expectations and be their perfect match?

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is your atypical romance. I am so tired of reading romances where the two main leads fall in love at first sight. Not only does this rarely happen in real life, but it is used too often in movies and books. I always wonder after watching and reading such romances if the two main leads would love one another besides the instant, physical connection. We all know that love isn't instant. It takes time to grow and to nourish it. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares address this in a sophisticated manner with wit, warmth, and introspection. Here is a book that goes beyond "he likes her, she likes him" and delves deeper into how we perceive people, how we communicate with one another, and of course, the process of writing.
  Cohn and Levithan have a knack in creating quirky, smart, and funny characters. I love both Dash and Lily for separate reasons, mainly because I can see myself in both of them. Dash is incredibly intelligent, confident, and extremely witty. He is a mash up between Mr. Darcy and Sheldon Cooper (who is a lot more socially aware) from the Big Bang Theory. He takes comments such as "bookish" with great pride, which makes him awesome in my book. Since he was caught in the middle of his parents' awful divorce, he has built walls around himself that keeps people from being away but as he opens up initially through the red book we begin to see the real Dash: lonely, detached, and numb. Lily, on the other hand, is quite the antithesis. She is your natural cheery person who will do anything to brighten up your mood. She loves the holidays and her family, but at the same time feels a bit smothered and too overprotective. She longs to break out of her shell, but isn't quite sure how to do so. Besides the two main leads, there are also great secondary characters such as Dash's lovable friend Boomer and Lily's very cool, collective Bohemian aunt.
   The concept of the red book starts off as an interesting plot device. The reader is on the edge of their seats waiting to see what the next challenge will be and how it will be executed. There are a lot of funny moments in the book that made me laugh out loud and smile. Soon the red book evolves from a plotting device to a metaphor, a hidden place amongst ourselves where we can openly and honestly share our desires and insecurities. The dares, once challenges that allows the characters to physically travel, now morph into internal challenges that each characters must go through individually. While the dialogue may seem older and wiser than the characters ages, it never comes across as fake. Cohn and Levithan refuse to dumb down their characters and their message. The romance may seem over-scripted and over-analyzed to some, I thought it was very realistic on how both genders view relationships and it works mainly because there is a solid basis to the romance. Cohn and Levithan has scored another irresistible winner. I really hope they continue to collaborate and write more books together.  

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and allusion to sex. There is also a small scene of underage drinking.

If you like this book try: Paper Towns by John Green, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, or Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen.
4 Responses
  1. danya Says:

    Thanks for letting me know that Matched is on the way - it seems like everyone's reviewing it these days and I can't wait to read it! :D

    Neat that Cohn and Levithan wrote this one without planning it together! I've seen mostly positive reviews and it sounds like a great holiday read. Also the cover is so cute :)

  2. BookQuoter Says:

    I am finishing Will Grayson, Will Grayson by Levithan and Green right now and I really like it. I will have to read this one for sure! Thanks.

  3. I have this one sitting here by me. I want to time my reading so It's closer to Christmas. Now I don't know if I can wait. Great review! I'm really looking forward to this one.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I'm hearing such good things about this book, but I've yet to read it or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I'm a little tired of the love at first sight romance situation as well, so this sounds like a refreshing read in that respect. And it sounds cute and funny, so what am I waiting for? Thanks for this review Rummanah!

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