Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Cohn & Levithan

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

“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.”

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?


I love it when there is an absence of a love triangle in young adult fiction.

I read more young-adult fiction now compared to when I was a young adult and it probably doesn’t help that most of it is Urban or Paranormal Fantasy/Romance. I’ll read something different every now and again, young adult dark fantasy or young adult fantasy, but even a change of genre doesn’t alter the fact that it all gets a little tired in the romance area. This is made worse for me because I’m not exactly a romantic or big on reading it.

Love lives and romantic adventures are a big part of adolescence, so naturally they’re going to be a bigger focus in young adult fiction. After you read enough of it though, it all starts to meld into each other because there are only so many times you can have originality in a love story and only so many you can read before you start becoming swamped by clichés.

I think this is one reason why I enjoyed Dash & Lily’s as much as I did. Yes, there are some romance clichés, because even a few are usually unavoidable, but it’s brought about in a different way that is refreshing and the characters help it along so much. At times I forgot about clichés, nitpicking errors (can’t help it, it’s a habit now), and was able to enjoy Dash & Lily’s simply as a story about two people and their lives being brought together via a notebook.

I don’t know if that sounds cheesy, maybe it does, but I love the idea of the notebook, the interactions it creates, and the conversations and thoughts it elicits.

I really enjoyed the characters except that at first they come across as a myriad bunch of people, but really quite a few of them are the same or at least very similar. This is something that can be overlooked based on the fact that a lot of them are relatives of Lily, but it’s not something that can be denied if you pay more attention.

I also found Lily’s cheeriness, not too extreme, but in too big a dose at times. We learn some back-story and scenes during the story, which shows she is capable of having different emotions, but I still didn’t feel any of it when I was reading. She’s like an even-keel character emotionally even when she is experiencing upsets or disappointments. It felt as if she didn’t spend enough time in those emotions to really believe them.

After all that, I still enjoy the character of Lily, but I was also grateful her time was broken up with Dash’s time (the story is told from both their P.O.V.s) and how lucky is it that Dash is the character I enjoy the most? His time with Lily’s great aunt was a little irksome and sometimes other characters would adopt his verbal nature, but apart from that, Dash was the best character out of the bunch and I think the story wouldn’t be anywhere near as engaging if it wasn’t for Dash.

It starts off really well, easy to read, easy to digest, engaging with quite a bit of humour laced in between all the questioning and internal searching, but at just after the halfway point it slumped for me. It got a little too silly and I think this is a story that had to be careful not to go overboard with that because it already had a modicum of silliness within. It did pick up again though and got back to it’s previous rhythm.

  • Genre: Young Adult General Fiction
  • Demographic: Young Adults and YA fans
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Format: Paperback Novel
  • Challenges: What’s In A Name
  • Find At: The Book Depository (in Hardback)

5 thoughts on “Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Cohn & Levithan

  1. This book was really strong for me while Dash and Lily were not together on the page – when they were leaving the notes and just missing each other etc. It almost felt as though once they actually met the authors weren’t quite sure what to do with it.


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