Thursday, 28 December 2017

Review on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

When Dash tricks his parents into letting him stay home alone for Christmas, the last thing he expects is to find a red notebook nestled between the books in his favourite book shop. Dash discovers that someone has written a series of dares in the notebook, just waiting for someone to take them on. With nothing to distract him from the nightmare that is Christmas, Dash decides to complete the dares and leave the book for it's owner to collect. Dash soon forms friendship with the mysterious notebook owner, who turns out to be a teenage girl named Lily. However, Dash soon realises that his idea of who Lily is may not be who she is in real life. Will the relationship they have formed on paper transcend into real life, or will Dash's idea of who Lily really is be completely wrong?

So I actually got this book as a present from my friend last Christmas, but I just didn't get round to reading it. As I was looking for a festive book to read over the Christmas period, I thought this one would be perfect!

There is just something about David Levithan's writing that I adore. Usually I would hate a cheesy Christmas romance book, but when it comes to David's books, I can never get enough! This book was completely cheesy and unrealistic, but I loved every second of it! The book follows Dash,  a teenage boy who finds a notebook in his local bookshop that someone has written dares in. Dash finds out the owner of the notebook is a girl named Lily. Dash and Lily communicate exclusively through the notebook, writing dares for each other and leaving the notebook for each other to find. Dash's friends start to worry that Dash has created a version of Lily in his head, a version that the real Lily won't be able to live up to. If their relationship is to work out off the page, Dash must accept Lily for who she is, and realise the person behind the notebook is an actual person with her own flaws and problems.

The story is narrated through the point of view of both Dash and Lily, with the chapters alternating between the two of them. I loved this way of telling the story, as we are able to properly get to know both of the characters rather than just getting to know one character and just the idea of the other character. I also loved how it was set during the Christmas holidays and went up to New Year, as it made it the perfect book to read in December.

As the book was published in 2010, I can't complain too much about the unoriginality of Dash. It seems like every teenage boy in a YA contemporary novel likes to use big words that I don't understand and think themselves superior to others. I felt as if Dash would end up going through more character development than he did, as he was still pretty snarky by the end of the book. I did prefer Lily to Dash, as she was more down to earth and I loved how enthusiastic she was about Christmas, and how much she loved dogs.

One thing that David Levithan is well known for is his LGBT characters. Although there are no LGBT protagonists in this book, I loved how other LGBT characters were handled. Lily's brother, Langston, has a boyfriend, while two of Dash's friends are in a gay relationship. Something I loved was how there was no drama surrounding these relationships. There was absolutely no homophobic behaviour from any of the other characters, and the relationships were treated no differently than if they had been straight ones. I feel as if we need more books like this, as a story doesn't have to be about LGBT people for them to be present in a story. They exist all around us, going about their daily lives. This is something that rarely comes up in books, but is something we need to help us normalise LGBT people in the media. We need to get to a point where seeing a gay couple in a book or on TV is just as normal as seeing a straight couple. Although it's unlikely this will be achieved any time soon, having more LGBT side characters is a good way to move forward.

This book had some fantastic side characters, and I particularly loved Boomer, Dash's best friend. Boomer was a friendly and lovable character, and although he was obviously meant to come across as dim witted, he actually gave Dash some good advice. As more of the chapters involving Boomer are narrated by Dash, I felt as if we are given a biased opinion on Boomer, as I felt that he wasn't as dim as Dash made him out to be. I thought Boomer asking Lily to get food with him was adorable, and I loved seeing a friendship starting to form between the two of them.

This book was quite a mixed bag, as there were sad moments, funny moments, romantic moments, and probably every other moment in between! Although I've been super busy lately with my birthday and Christmas being a week apart, I still managed to get through the book fairly quickly. I even almost missed my stop while reading on the train I was so engrossed in it!

This book is a brilliant, light hearted read to get you in the festive mood! Although no super serious topics are brought up, I loved the theme of acceptance that ran throughout the novel. I loved how although Lily wasn't exactly how Dash had imagined her to be, he ended up liking her more than when she was an anonymous girl writing in a notebook. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a warm and fuzzy read!I