Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Book Review
Updated: Jul 1
Good Monday and happy almost-winter! It's basically winter, right? We should get our shit together and make everything on the first of a month rather than some twenty-odd day. No one wants to admit it's still fall in December. Winter is here!
As such, I hope you enjoy this review of one of our recommended holiday books.
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Category: Cozy Read
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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Let me begin by admitting to one of the greatest book sins: I watched the Netflix series before reading the book.
I know! I know. Don't shun me. It was going to be awhile before I could get my hands on the book, and the show looked so cute. I was not disappointed.
Now, I will draw a few points of reference from the show to illustrate how the book is different and, as always, in some ways better. However, I won't stray too close to spoiler territory, so you can read on!
Like all contemporary romance, the potential couple Dash and Lily are at the forefront of this character-driven plot. And, man, am I glad they are. They're both hilarious in different ways, flawed, adorable, and downright entertaining.
Lily is a dork (in the good sense) who wears vintage, sometimes hand-made clothes; loves to bake; adores her family and animals; and is optimistic to a fault. She loves Christmas and everything about it, and her view on it all is cheerfully practical and refreshing:
I should admit I have researched much of the scientific evidence refuting G-d's existence, as a result of which . . . I am a true believer in him the way I am in Santa. But I will unhesitatingly, and joyfully, O-Holy-Night his name between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, with the mutual understanding that as of Christmas Day, once the presents are opened, my relationship with him goes on hiatus until I camp out for the best viewing of the Macy's parade the following year. - Chp 2
Though both characters are tongue-in-cheek, Dash is a pessimist bordering on nihilist who (quite relatably) despises the general populace and everything that has them clamoring together around Christmas. He's also not keen on a quiet family Christmas, as his parents split up years before and he's (happily) left on his own while each parent separately vacations with their sweetheart.
The only bright side of this dim season was that school was shuttered (presumably so everyone could shop ad nauseum and discover that family, like arsenic, works best in small doses . . . unless you prefer to die). - Chp 1
I adore this concept so much: Faced with her first Christmas alone as her parents skip off to Fiji for their anniversary, her grandpa visits his girlfriend in Florida, and her brother holes up with his new boyfriend, Lily takes her brother Langston's advice and uses one of her notebooks to create a book of dares.
Dash discovers this book amongst the shelves of The Strand, both characters' favorite bookstore, and proceeds to play the game . . . his way.
This leads to the two swapping the book, with their dares and confessions, back and forth all over New York without officially meeting.
THE HIGH POINTS
Besides the cute concept, the whimsical bookstore and Christmas-in-New-York atmosphere, and both characters' quirkiness, I enjoyed how fast-paced and downright delightful this is to read. Not a single chapter is dull or drags more than necessary. In fact, I would happily read double the book length if it meant I could get more of Dash and Lily's personalities.
Interspersed with humor and vulnerability is such intelligent, deep conversation—the type book nerds always wish they could have with friends or a potential love interest. Their entries and conversations are peppered with large vocabulary, metaphors, favorite lines from poems and old literature, and their to-the-point but meaningful takes on life.
And none of it felt pretentious or philosophical for the sake of running in mental circles, the way literary books often do in an attempt to be "artsy."
I always hoped that after the prince found Cinderella and they rode away in their magnificent carriage, after a few miles she turned to him and said, "Could you drop me off down the road, please? Now that I've finally escaped my life of horrific abuse, I'd like to see something of the world, you know? . . . I'll catch up with you later, Prince, once I've found my own way." - Chp 10
I honestly cannot choose a favorite between the book and the mini-series, which is unusual for me. There's almost always a clear winner.
I love the book for giving you more of Dash and Lily's humor, inner thoughts, and way more time together than the show. It also gives a bit more screen time to a couple of the side characters, who (like the show) are all hilariously quirky and enjoyable.
However, the show did add a touch more depth to Lily. For one, there's no indication she's anything but Caucasian in the book (it's hard to tell, because neither character is described beyond what they wear and that Lily apparently has blond bangs and glasses while Dash has blue eyes). This is fine, of course, but I do miss the cultural nuance and ensuing strained relationship with her strict grandfather that growing up in a half-Asian household grants TV Lily.
Additionally, Lily's insecurities are so much more prominent in the show, setting her up with more to overcome. Book Lily and Dash are more comfortable with themselves and the world, and there isn't much conflict between them or other characters.
Book Lily's grandfather is stern but doesn't really get in the way. There's barely any drama with Langston and his boyfriend (and they were hardly in the book! *Sadness*). There's no mix-up with Dash's ex. And the scene that serves as the big blowout in the show is brushed over easily, with Dash coming around almost immediately after (I will admit I prefer understanding, willing-to-compromise Book Dash over "I'm-gonna-call-it-quits-because-this-isn't-going-my-way" TV Dash).
Read it. It's a lovely, heartwarming book packed with humor, intelligence, and cozy atmosphere. This is absolutely the perfect read for chilly winter evenings with a cup of hot cocoa.
Have you seen the show and/or read the book? Tell us your thoughts in the comments so we can compare! If you're interested in grabbing a copy for yourself, click that book link below.