Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

I was all set to love this book. I mean, what could go wrong, right? It has the trail of a secreted notebook with clues for adventures, left in none other than a bookstore. It has a girl seeking a boy. It has Manhattan at Christmas time. It has a lover of words. I loved the idea that two authors worked together (Rachel Cohn writing the female voice and David Levithan writing the male voice). Yet, somehow, I didn't love this book.

Sixteen year old Dash is wandering the aisles of his favorite bookshop when he happens upon a red moleskin notebook with a challenge to join in a mutual dialogue with various dares thrown in. He is transfixed and cannot leave the notebook there. He must follow the clues and discover more about the female owner of this notebook, Lily. The notebook travels back and forth between the two characters with each one pouring out their authentic souls into the notebook. Will they still maintain this chemistry when they actually meet? Will true love descend at Christmas time?

I was truly worried I would get to my young adult book club to find that everyone else adored the book but me. Thankfully, that was not the case. Most of the others felt just as meh about it as I did. I didn't want to hear the descriptive word "snarly" one more time. And really, Dash isn't so much snarly as he is endlessly snarky and full of attitude. His love of words, while commendable, seemed to end up bogging down the dialogue instead of enhancing it. Moreover, the dialogue was a bit of a stretch for teen speak.

The willful suspension of disbelief was challenged to the limit (the notebook never falls into any other hands than it is intended for, the clues are followed without confusion, the one who happens to find the book happens to fit what Lily is looking for, etc.). If the brother knows beforehand that Lily's parents intend to uproot her to move to an exotic location, why would he send her on this wild goose chase hoping for a true love connection? Moreover, we decided in our discussion that it would have made more sense if the one who answered the notebook was in cahoots with her brother to begin with, thus having an inside view to what is going on. For whatever reason, the novel just left me wishing for more. I liked the idea and it held promise ... it just didn't deliver on all that it could have.

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