Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares Book Review

I’ve left some clues for you.

If you want them, turn the page.

If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.

–pg 4


Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Lonely Lily leaves a red moleskin with some puzzles in it in a bookstore in hopes that someone finds it. Someone does. That someone is Dash. These kids are pretty much alone over the holidays and they live in New York. Through little dares and messages left in the book, they get to know each other, until they finally meet and then the story ends.

A part of me feels like I gave away the whole story there. I suppose I did. But then again, I don’t really care if I spoiled it for you. You think that summary was bland? Read the book.

Hmm. That was a cold blow, even for me. But this book was, in the words of Michael Cera’s Scott Pilgrim “Booooring. Delete!” I suppose it was quirky and the well written to some extent, but I pretty much skimmed this whole book and didn’t care one way or another about the characters or the plot. Obviously, coming from reading awesome Zombie vs. Unicorn short stories (I will be reviewing that, you can bet on it), this was doomed to seem mundane. But I figured it’d be mundane in a Jennifer Aniston rom-com kind of way. It wasn’t. It was just…

Well, the main issue was that it started out from Dash’s point of view (it’s in first person, alternating between the characters) and I didn’t like Dash. Dash was a douche. Okay, he wasn’t really a douche. But he was a hipster freak. Like, I have nothing against hipsters. I’ve been called hipster. I don’t think I am hipster. But where I live, you find a lot of hipsters. They’re cool. They like their indie stuff (see, I can’t be hipster because I don’t like the whole of the Arcade Fire’s Funeral, just “Wake Up”) and their Cold War history and their thick glasses, but sometimes, form my experience, they can be kinda (and not to insult all hipsters, because I’m really not a hater, I just see this type around school a lot)  snobby. Like, if you can’t keep up with their foreign films, you aren’t worth anything. That kind of, to quote Scott Pilgrim again, “I’m vegan so I’m better than you” snobby. You know what I mean?

So Dash wasn’t really a douche. I just didn’t like him. He was cold. And aloof. And though the writing was certainly more difficult than the majority of YA reads out there, it was obnoxious to read from Dash’s point of view. He wasn’t funny. He was snarky. As they described him, “snarly.” How am I expected to care for a character who is snarly?!

I suppose through reading the book, my sympathy was supposed to grow and I should have ended up liking him much in the same way I fell in love with the character of Chuck Bass after finding out that his father hates him. But I didn’t.

So I snapped-judged him, but he wasn’t giving me much of a choice. He was arrogant sounding and talked in a way that just irritated me. Also, it was so off-base a character for someone who might casually pick up this book. For the age group, and as a YA novel, I don’t mean that you have to dumb things down for us (Dash had a lot of allusions to history, ect, and a large vocabulary), but the type of character didn’t suite the target market. Which isn’t to say that all writers should conform, just that it can be a hit and miss, and with me, it was a miss. Although I get the feeling that the authors tried hard to make him cool, but he just came out cold.

Lily, I didn’t read much of. I don’t really know what to think about her. She seemed…timid. Like I said, I just skipped around for a bit and then read the end. It was in her point of view. It was alright. I think Lily was more relatable than Dash. But I’m really not sure.

You know, I always feel bad reviewing a book I couldn’t make it through, but you know how my rule goes: if you liked it a lot and want me to give it a second try, I will honestly read the whole thing and do a re-review. I’ve done it before. I will, of course, do it again.

In the end, this book was just a book. It wasn’t engaging in the way others of the type (I’m thinking John Green’s creations, or What my Mother/Girlfriend Doesn’t Know style) of a similar genre are. I don’t think girls or boys will be any more drawn to it because it has both a female and male lead. I thought it was average and dull and Dash pissed me off. Overall, I think the writers are talented. I just didn’t care for the story that much, or the characters.

I know I sound harsh, but like I said, this is coming from after reading about suicidal unicorns and zombie love. It’s a tough set to beat. This book didn’t stand a chance.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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  1. wow you really didn’t like this one!

    I actually found it a cute, quirky and enjoyable read. Sure it’s not literary masterpiece, but it was exactly what I was craving at the time.

    Of course, I haven’t read Zombies vs Unicorns yet, will definitely have to pick that up in the future. I do have Tithe on my to-read list this year, so I’m anxious to see how I find holly black.

    • Ri

       /  January 14, 2011

      That was fast! I can see how people would like it, but I guess Dash’s attitude just really irked me. It was something I just couldn’t get past. But you should read zombies vs. unicorns. The short stories are fun and they’re by all sorts of YA authors. I haven’t read Tithe yet (Black’s on the Unicorn side), but I might now.

  2. Abbie

     /  March 26, 2011

    I’m a HUGE David Levithan fan (I’ve read nothing of Rachel Cohn’s, besides the books she’s co-written with him), and I’ve read almost everything of his. I have to say this is one of my favorites. It’s true, Dash is – as the book says – Snarly. But I thought that was fine. I sort of enjoyed that he wasn’t stereotypically “likable”, because it made him more original.

    Lily I loved though, and she is the reason I loved this book. Definitely see if you want to try it again, because she’s great. One of those female characters who I actually really loved, because her personality is wonderful and jumps out to connect with the reader (or with me, at any rate).

    Anyway, I found your site because I was googling for reviews of Zombies vs. Unicorns (reading it now) and it came up. Your reviews are very interesting, especially since we seem to disagree on quite a bit, haha :D. Not sure if you’ve read Tithe by now or not, but I have to say it’s one of the worst books I ever read. Really not a Holly Black fan.

    • Ri

       /  March 26, 2011

      First, thank you for commenting, especially for being brave enough to disagree! I absolutely love it when people don’t have the same opinions as me because it’s just interesting, you know?

      Anyways, since you’ve asked and it is my policy, I will try this book again and see if I like it any better.
      You made a good point with Dash– he’s snarlyness did make him original which is a huge standout from the regular bad boys and sweet guys we see normally. I suppose I just couldn’t get along with his character and that alienated me from half of the book.

      Anyways, did you read Zombies vs. Unicorns? I haven’t read Holly Black but she didn’t write any for the anthology. The stories were for the most part pretty good.

      I hope you can come back and read my re-review and I would love for you to comment on the others– especially if you disagree! Thanks so much for commenting now. Each one seriously makes my day :)

      • Abbie

         /  March 26, 2011

        Yay! I’m glad! I always feel sort of badly when I disagree with book reviews (which I seem to do a lot, haha) but it’s always fun to discuss :D.

        Yes, I just finished Zombies vs. Unicorns and I thought maybe 90% of the stories were excellent. There were only four of five that I didn’t like, but even they weren’t *terrible* (and I’ve read some awful anthologies, so I was grateful).

        No, I totally get what you mean about Dash – it’s definitely hard to get into a book if you hate a character, especially if (like me) you consider yourself more of a character person than a plot person. I guess maybe I liked Lily enough that I didn’t mind? Or I just got used to him? Or i’m weird, and I felt like liking him just because he was different, even though I don’t actually *like* people like that.

        I’ll definitely go check out some of your other reviews too.

      • Ri

         /  March 26, 2011

        No, I totally get the character over plot thing. I can put up with a bad plot if I like the characters enough. And sometimes, if the characters are funny enough, I can forgive them odd behavior. So I’ll hopefully try to look at Dash with an open mind.

        And also, thanks for all your comments. Made my day x3 :)

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