“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.”
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favourite 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?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
I’m not sure I could ask for a better book to review on Valentine’s Day. Dash and Lily’s blossoming romance is one of the sweetest, funniest and most honest that I’ve read.
I loved the concept of this story, that the couple meet through a diary, performing a set of tasks and clues before they ever see each other face to face. The book opens with Dash’s point of view as he finds the little diary stashed in-between his favourite author’s works in a bookshop. The book dares him to prove himself by following some clues, eliminating anyone who the diarist would not be romantically interested in. Dash passes the test, but instead of leaving his name and number with the specified shop assistant, he leaves the diary, with a new set of clues. And so the dairy-flirting-treasure-hunt begins.
Through the opening chapter, both Dash and the reader gain a sense of what kind of person Lily is, and both are completely wrong! In the very next chapter the reader is introduced to the real Lily, a shy, optimistic and naive girl whose brother placed the diary in the bookshop in the hopes of finding her a date. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that not only are Lily and Dash almost exact opposites, they are also each forming entirely the wrong impression of the other. Dash is snarky, sarcastic and suspicious, and he hates Christmas. Lily is open, optimistic and cheery, and she loves everything about this time of year. Dash thinks Lily’s messages are ironic and her Christmas-themed clues are designed to tease him. Lily has a slightly more truthful impression of Dash (largely thanks to her helpful and hilarious relatives), but his sarcasm can sometimes fly over her head and she believes Christmas is all that's needed to cheer him up.
At first the situation seems hopeless, but then both Dash and Lily begin to change. Lily is right; Dash is, underneath the snark, a boy who needs a little more cheer and optimism in his life. Through Lily’s kindness and joy (and some very good cookies), he does begin to open up a bit more and to look at the world in a better light. For the first time he begins to enjoy Christmas. And Lily needs her boundaries to be pushed a little, to be treated more like an adult and asked the important questions that only Dash seems willing to ask her. Lily is upset about many little things in her life, mostly all due to the over-protectiveness of her family – which, as she puts it, is what causes ‘Shrilly’ to emerge. Dash helps Lily to gain confidence in herself and to stick up for herself a little more. As Lily toughens a little, Dash softens a little; it is clear that they are actually perfect for each other after all.
The book is written very well, with a lot of heart but also a lot of humour. There were several laugh-out-loud moments, especially Dash’s encounter with the local vigilante mummy-patrol. The characterisation is brilliant and it’s this that really makes the book so fantastic. Both Dash and Lily are wonderful characters, and their relationship as well as their interaction with others is always realistic and enjoyable. For me, Lily was the stand out character – she was always truthfully written and the most sympathetic, and the one who changed the most throughout the story. There’s also a fantastic range of side-characters who add plenty of humour and trouble to the plot.
Romantic, moving, funny and honest, and packed with great characters, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is a wonderful story.
Thank you to HarlequinUK and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.