Friday, 1 February 2013
Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Cohn is obviously much better-read than I will ever be. This is a book for book-lovers, a whistle-stop tour of American literary history. Being English, and lacking a degree in English Lit, I can't help but feel that I'm missing quite a few points, but at the same time I feel like I'm being educated in a rather charming way. Literary references fight for space with sarcasm and angst in a most teenager-ish way, making the book feel as though it really is written by Dash and Lily, rather than an author. The way Cohn and Levithan write, taking a character each and trading chapter for chapter, produces a brilliantly individual pair of voices, and a wonderful story line that evolves in line with the relationship between the two main characters.
Little by little we get to know Dash and Lily, as little by little they get to know each other. The path of true love rarely runs smooth, so of course there are going to be obstacles, but don't worry - I feel confident in letting slip a little spoiler that nothing truly heinous occurs to sully this most charming of tales. Along the way, we are introduced to a supporting cast of family and friends - a gorgeous collection of characters who help Dash and Lily to set up and carry out their dares. I think Boomer is my favourite - he always says the right thing, no matter how ridiculous it is.
I'm almost always affected by the books I read - if a book doesn't flavour my inner monologue, then it's not really that good. In reading Dash & Lily, I can't help but feel I've become a better person, for a little while at least. I'm more considerate, I think carefully about the words I choose to use, I have an urge to dress in a somewhat zany way which is altogether me but the me that I'm usually too afraid and conventional to show. Also, I need to bake lebkuchen spice cookies.
I'm very critical of endings. I love books that come in series form, as it means I can happily read away without fear of coming across a disappointing ending. Dash & Lily has the perfect ending, though. No sequel required, no let-down, no 'end of something beautiful'. Just hope and dreams. I've had to thesaurus 'charming' - I've used it twice in this review already to describe the story and the writing, so I don't feel I can really get away with using it again. Therefore, I pronounce Dash & Lily's Book of Dares to be captivating, delightful, sweet, winsome, pleasing and beguiling. If that sounds too girly and fluffy, rest assured that it's also witty, droll, scintillating, jocular, piercing and original.