Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

This wasn’t a bad book. It wasn’t a great book, either. I just wasn’t as in love with it as I wanted to be. The characters don’t feel real and while I liked the ending and it made up for most of the book, it wasn’t enough to save it.

When I read a book about teens, I want to read a book about teens. Not adults packaged in teen bodies, and that’s what Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is. I’m all for reading about teens that don’t quite fit in, that are a little quirky. I think that can make a good book great. But there’s a fine line between making the characters enjoyably quirky and a little too pretentious. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares starts off cute and sweet, heads into pretentious, and ends on the last couple pages sweet again.

I could have liked Dash and Lily. Lily even felt like the book version of me for a while. It was just that part in the middle, where Cohn and Levithan seemed to be trying to prove to me how smart Dash and Lily are instead of letting the characters show me how smart they are. I don’t need to be impressed with their knowledge of obscure literature and poetry in order to believe a character is smart. For a while, it felt like Levithan and Cohn were trying to shout out, “Look how intelligent and well-read we are! We know more than you!” instead of trying to make a great story.

I will say that the ending, once the pretension left, was exactly what I hoped the rest of the novel would have been. It was sweet, made me sappy, and nearly perfect. It just came too late to save the rest of the book.

I had hopes for Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, and they just weren’t met. The beginning and end were exactly what I was wishing for, but the middle was too much. Too much adult for a book with teen characters, too much pretension, just too much. I’m disappointed with this book, and that’s not a feeling I enjoy having.

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