Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, begins with 16-year-old Dash finding a mysterious notebook on the shelves of the Strand in New York City. Inside the book he finds a list of instructions, a set of puzzles, and clues that provide a way to contact the author — a nameless but undeniably interesting girl. As he writes an additional set of instructions himself, the two begin to pass the book back and forth, sending each other all over the city yet never meeting face to face. But faced with a real-life encounter, how will things hold up?
Overall, I thought this book was creative and well done. The puzzles that the two leave for each other are funny, surprising, and provide a great view of New York as they dash (get it? Dash?) across the city. It was a lot of fun. But halfway through, the two characters meet face to face, and utter chaos erupts, both for the characters and for the reader. The rest of the book is spent with a kind of depressed wandering. Neither of them is sure whether or not to continue to swap the notebook, family troubles erupt, and what once was a lighthearted book becomes droopy and lethargic. Granted, this kind of slump has to happen in any romance book to have a satisfying rise at the end, but here it felt a little long, changing the tone and pace of the book.
But hey, the writing had depth without being preachy, the characters were quirky without getting annoying, and even the slumpy half of the book had some laughs. So with note to plodding plot problems in places, it still stands as a good romance and story. (MotherReader would want me to mention that there is some Language in the book, but honestly, nothing that will surprise teens who walk the halls of any high school.)
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.