One day, Dash is at The Strand and finds a red notebook with some instructions in them. He follows the instructions, which eventually lead to a back-and-forth set of dares between him and the notebook’s owner, a girl named Lily whom he’s never met. The book is filled with Christmas and romance! It’s my second attempt this winter at a Christmasy sort of book.
So. I’ve loved one Cohn-Levithan duet (Nick & Norah) and disliked another (Naomi & Ely), so I went into this book hoping that it would be far more NN than NE. I would have read it either way, but thankfully Darren also made me sigh in relief when he reported that the book was more NN than NE, so I went into it without any trepidation.
The book was so much fun! I loved seeing how the dares unfolded, from the mild to the mildly creepy. It was interesting to see these two very different people work their way to each other, and wonder if it’ll ever be possible for them to stick together. I like that they wonder that too. In Dash’s words, “Delightful and persnickety are not a common blend.”
I have to admit, I liked Dash far more than Lily. Lily reminded me too much of some of the female characters from NE. I think it might just be Rachel Cohn’s style that I don’t take well, honestly. There were things in Lily’s section that mirrored all the issues I had with both other books, right down to the gay stereotyping near the end of the book. Really? Only gay teen boys would like to eat dairy products? WTF? Lily also has a lot of false starts that come…um…after she’s already run nearly the whole mile. Imagine a runner who gets almost to the finish line only to stop and question whether or not this was her race in the first place, and there you have Lily. Or Norah. Or Naomi. They always ask in the end what they should have asked in the beginning. It feels unbelievable to me, but maybe it’s just a personality type I don’t mesh well with. In any case, it was only a minor annoyance. I just wanted to explain why I love Dash’s character so much better. He felt more real to me, with the added bonus that I love Levithan’s writing.
The book was very funny and I laughed out loud a lot. I particularly got a kick out of the hysterical mother’s group, the fictional Pixar movie description, and the digs at news media. I enjoyed nearly every minute of reading (aside from the gay stereotyping in the one section, which again seems to be Cohn’s style). This was a great holiday read, fun and fast and light. Far better than my last trial with Christmasy books! Oh, and for those who were turned off the other Cohn-Levithan books because of the sex and swearing, this is a MUCH cleaner book.