Title: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
ISBN: 9780375866593
Pages: 260 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, c2010.

So here we are.
Now it’s up to you,
what we do (or don’t) do.

If you are interested in continuing this conversation,
please choose a book, any book, and
leave a slip of paper with your email address inside of it.
Give it to Mark, at the information desk.

If you ask Mark any questions about me,
he will not pass on your book.
So no questions.

Once you have given your book to Mark,
please return this book to the shelf
where you found it.

If you do all these things,
you very well might hear from me.
Thank you.
Lily (13)

Dash has given his divorced parents the slip for the holidays, telling his mom and dad that he’s spending Christmas with the other one. Christmas has never really been his holiday anyway. Wiling away his time at a local bookstore, Dash stumbles across a mysterious notebook planted by a girl named Lily. Lily loves Christmas, and agrees to her gay brother’s idea of getting Lily a date through the notebook. What follows is a New York City version of 39 Clues, with the notebook visiting some of New York’s famous landmarks. But when Lily and Dash finally have the opportunity to meet in person, will they recognize each other from the people portrayed on paper?

This is my first exposure to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan together, even though they’ve done this kind of collaboration twice before, most famously Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist but also with Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. Are we sensing a pattern here?

The story was engaging, although towards the end the emphasis and worries about how Dash and Lily really act seemed to take over the fun and witty banter that initially pulled you into the story. The other problem I have is the language. Although for me it wasn’t as bad as it was for Beth S., I did have a problem when on the first few pages I found words like ersatz, Bolshevik, philatelist, and Pavlovian, along with the description of the Stand (a New York bookstore) as “that bastion of titillating erudition” (2) Say WHAT?! Would you continue this book with that many unknown words if it was written by anyone other than Rachel Cohn and David Levithan? I really don’t think so.

However, the story really does have a nice ebb and flow, with Dash’s Scrooge-like cynicism balanced against Lily’s overly optimistic outlook with life. Regardless of how unrealistic it might be that these two would really be able to get along as well as they do (both on paper and when they finally meet), readers are willing to suspend their belief. Their hodgepodge cast of helper elves also adds lots of humor and intrigue, as you slowly learn who everyone is in this six-steps-removed setting. A nice holiday read for a snow day when you’re curled up under the covers or in front of a fire.