So, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are both fairly well known YA authors on their own. I have read both of their stuff. I have enjoyed their books, but I never really loved either of them, until their wonderful collaborations began. Their first book together was Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I pretty much walked around for days in a post book haze, clutching that book to me to re-read certain parts. If you have seen the movie, please know the book is much, much better. Though, I just loved the movie too. I must admit that I still have yet to read their second collaboration: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List; however, it is definitely on my To-Read list as of now.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is primarily about Dash and Lily. And like with Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, this book is very much focused on character. The story begins with Lily’s brother talking Lily into leaving a red notebook on a shelf she likes in her favorite bookstore. The book has some challenges in it to possibly test a possible teen boy. Mostly, Lily’s brother comes up with this idea so he can have more time with his boyfriend (while the parents are on an anniversary trip to Fiji) and less time with his younger sister.
Dash picks up the notebook in his favorite bookstore, even on a shelf where some of his favorite books are (Salinger’s). And from there comes a story of challenges and dares that lead these two teens all around NYC, from crazy Christmas lights in Brooklyn to Indie/Jewish rock concerts at 2 in the morning, to FAO Schwartz the day before Christmas, to Madame Tussaud’s. There’s a crazy dog chase scene, parties, famous tv network kitchens, and plenty of play with words. Lilly and Dash get to write to each other between the dares, and while a lot of this writing helped them individually deal with their own problems with family and growing up, it also allowed them to find each other.
There are ex-girlfriends, best friends, crazy cousins and wonderful wealthy aunts, snowball attacks, arrests, and even some slight online fame. The book is jam-packed with literary references, and I guess this book is to literature what Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was to music. Dash is sort of obsessed with words and language, and there’s a very interesting scene with the many volumes of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary).
Readers get to follow these characters around New York, and with each dare and each journal entry, it’s impossible not to hope for the two main characters’ eventual meet-up. The story was very well put together. The characters were all people I want to be friends with. I just wish it was bigger. It's the kind of book, as the publisher points out on the back, that will have you searching your favorite book shelves, looking for a red notebook, and hoping for something real that is so hard to find (especially as a teenager). I give it a 10/10. And I really do hope that these two writers don’t stop their YA writing partnership.