This year, I wanted to read some Christmas inspired books. I picked up The Christmas Carol, a Jane Austen inspired Christmas novel, and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. Part of it was an effort to get into the Christmas spirit, and part of it was a desire to finish up my reading challenge with some books that I don’t usually read.
So, I stepped into Dash and Lily knowing that it was not the genre I usually read, buy authors I didn’t usually read, and about a topic that I didn’t usually read. It would really have to be a grand slam to register as a good book on my review. Unfortunately, it was a foul ball.
Before I get into the review, I want to say again that I do not usually read this type of book — the contemporary teen romance. I can’t remember the last time I read a contemporary teen novel, but I know it wasn’t a romance. I like gritty, adventurous, dangerous types of teen novels (if they have romance in them, okay, but it’s not something I seek out), so I began this novel with an open mind, but pretty aware that I wouldn’t love it. If you do like contemporary teen romance, probably don’t bother to read this review.
So the novel centers around the relationship of the titular Dash and Lily, both of whom live in New York City, love books, are not the average teen, and who are alone on Christmas. They have very different views of Christmas and the Christmas spirit. The novel is about the formation of their relationship as they correspond via a red notebook and ridiculous holiday dares. Lily dares Dash to rub a mall Santa’s belly, Dash dares Lily to make her own muppet, Lily dares Dash to write about his best Christmas memory, Dash dares Lily to write about her worst Christmas memory. They don’t meet until well into the novel, and as expected, it isn’t in the way that either of them would want it. It ends at the dawning of a New Year, full of hope and possibility.
The premise was alright. It was a little slow for me, and full of some minute incongruence that only I would notice (when did Lily make those cookies). Dash was insufferable at first but grew on me; Lily was insufferable from the start and stayed that way. I think the biggest issue for me was Lily and the tendency of the authors to sound like adults writing as if they were talking to teens. It wasn’t exactly condescending, but it just felt like when you talk to someone who desperately wants you to think they’re cool but really only succeeds in making themselves look ridiculous. I’m not sure if Levithan wrote Dash and Cohn wrote Lily but there was clear difference in writing styles and voices, and I have read a little bit of Ten Things I Hate About You, so I think that Levithan wrote Dash. I liked Dash better, and felt like his parts were more interesting. He seemed more mature and together, less like Levithan was trying so hard to be teen hip, where Lily sounded petulant and silly.
I liked the bookish bits. I liked the bits in The Strand, and liked when the characters discussed books and their deeper feelings. I think I only finished the book because I liked the secondary characters. Lily’s great aunt was wonderful and totally Goals. Boomer was endearing. Even Sofia was kind of charming to me. I just didn’t like Lily very much, and Dash was equal parts pretentious and honest, so the jury is still out on him.
I gave it a two out of five on Goodreads. It wasn’t worthy of one or zero, so I settled on a noncommittal two. It was fine. I will forget it soon. If this genre is your jam, probably don’t look to me for reviews! If you want to branch out from fantasy YA into contemporary, maybe don’t start with this one.
Have you read this book? What did you think?