Welcome to He Said, She Said, a feature for GuysLitWire in which a guy (Book Chic, a recent college graduate) and a gal (Little Willow, a bookseller) discuss books that will appeal to both genders.
Today, we'll be discussing Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. This collaborative novel is a perfect fit for He Said, She Said. Levithan and Cohn wrote alternating chapters, each from his or her main character's point of view, following the model they set up in previous bestselling novels Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi & Ely's No-Kiss List. (Little Willow adds: I found Dash & Lily to be just as amazing as Nick & Norah. This novel is absolutely delightful - a true holiday treat!)
When Dash discovers a red Moleskine notebook on the shelf of The Strand bookstore, he opens it and finds questions and challenges inside. Lily, the girl who left the notebook, wants to liven up her holiday break. The two teenagers start a lively game of dares, each writing in the notebook and leaving it in designated locations for the other person to discover. Along the way, they challenge themselves just as much as they challenge each other. Will they ever dare to meet in person? You have to read the book to find out!
Now we challenge you to read our roundtable. It's simple, really. Just keep going...
Little Willow: What did you think of Dash at first?
Book Chic: I actually really liked him and identified with him more than with Lily. He was sarcastic like me, though more quick-witted and eloquent. I didn’t agree with the description from others of his being “snarly” because to me, that made him sound like Billy Idol from the ‘80s with a sneer on his face all the time, thus making him look unattractive. This cannot be, so I refused to believe it. It made him look too mean.
Little Willow: I liked Dash from the get-go because he was intellectual, and he was intrigued and amused by the clues he found in the little red Moleskine notebook, just as the readers were. I really liked the fact that the story opened with the book scavenger hunt, wasting no time and introducing the main plot immediately. Then we met Lily in the next chapter, and I dug her right away as well. She was an individual, sassy, and just plain fun! What was your first impression of Lily?
Book Chic: I liked her too, but not as much as Dash. She wasn’t as adventurous and seemed rigid and a rule-abiding girl. Although I do identify with those traits (except the girl part, obviously), I just wasn’t as into her as much. She did have a good sense of humor though.
Little Willow: Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt that required epistolary correspondence and/or hiding or finding things in a bookstore?
Book Chic: Nope, I’m not good at finding things, so I stay away from scavenger hunts, epistolary or not, to avoid embarrassment.
Little Willow: Maybe you could be the person who hid the items instead of the person who found them. You could be the hunt coordinator! I dare you to start with a notebook. I’ve never had a Moleskine, but when I was in 10th grade, I had a notebook that I shared with a friend and passed back and forth. Did you ever do that?
Book Chic: I had a sheltered childhood so I didn’t even do anything as little as passing notes with a friend, much less a whole notebook. I’m very lame and rule-abiding. Also, I figured I could wait and just talk to them out loud.
Little Willow: Rule-abiding people rule! No pun intended. Did you favor one narrator over the other? I liked how different they were in both personality and voice. Kudos to David Levithan and Rachel Cohn for giving them those distinct voices.
Book Chic: Like I said before, I did really enjoy Dash's perspective the most, but I looked forward to reading Lily's sections too because of her extended family, especially her gay brother and his boyfriend. I preferred her gays over his gays, which I know sounds weird. Anyway, we can't talk about this book and not mention some of the wonderful dares and the scenes they caused. I really enjoyed the Santa Claus dare and was laughing hysterically while reading it. I also really liked the ending of the baby stealer scene - action-packed AND funny! What were some of your favorite dares throughout the book? Or a favorite scene?
Little Willow: I liked how it was established early on that Lily had a big family, thus giving her many helpers and drop-off points, making it more believable that the items would be in safe hands than they would be at wholly random places. I enjoyed the creation of Snarly, and his subsequent drop-off. I liked the tie-ins with Cohn & Levithan’s previous collaborations, and the mentions of the fictional Pixar film. Did this book inspire you to read (or re-read) any of the books they mentioned?
Book Chic: I have too many review books to read, so unfortunately I can’t add new books or re-read books. I think though that the only book I had actually read was Fat Hoochie Prom Queen by Nico Medina and it was so awesome to see it mentioned here. Most of the others I hadn’t even heard of.
Little Willow: I really wanted to see a picture of Snarly. Who is your favorite Muppet?
Book Chic: Snarly would have been awesome to see! They should make one and take a picture of it for the paperback, either as the cover or just as a little bonus at the end. Anyway, Elmo is a favorite of mine, but I also really enjoy some of the old school Muppets, like those two old guys who heckle from the balcony. They’re so funny!
Little Willow: I love the sketch where Kermit visits the T-shirt shop. Click here to watch it. It always makes me laugh. (Oh, anagrams! You kill me!) I wonder if Dash or Lily have ever seen it...
Thanks for reading our roundtable discussion of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. We hope you’ll check out the book. Read an excerpt at the publisher’s website.
Check out our previous He Said, She Said posts, including our discussion of Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.
Read other roundtable book discussions hosted at Bildungsroman.