Book review: The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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In Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, grumpy Dash and ever-cheerful Lily begin dating amid a Christmas scavenger hunt. It’s all well and good, but I thought to myself that these crazy kids would never make it past their first couple months because they have literally nothing in common. Well, The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily takes place one year later, and, unsurprisingly, they’re not in a good place.

Lily’s beloved grandpa is sick, she’s got a lot of stuff going on in her family life, and she and Dash have grown apart.  The first thing I want to say is that, while I might have guessed that the relationship wouldn’t last, I didn’t particularly want to read chapter after chapter about how unhappy Lily is.  Particularly when the reason for her unhappiness is basically that she’s spent her entire life as a spoiled brat and is accustomed to being treated like a princess.  Of course, the problems between Dash and Lily take center stage while the sick grandpa and the family drama are relegated to the background.

In short, Lily expects far too much from her teenaged boyfriend.  She laments the fact that he doesn’t skip school to be with her, that he doesn’t intrude on her family time by staying to decorate the Christmas tree, that he’s not upset to find she’s been hanging out with another boy.  Can I just take a minute to explain how much I hate the “I want my boyfriend to be jealous of me spending time with other men” plot?

Storytime.  About ten years ago, I was kind-of-sort-of dating a boy who got insanely jealous that I dared speak to another boy while I was on a date with him. It might be important to mention that the other boy I was speaking to was (a) one of our mutual friends, (b) someone I hadn’t seen in months and wasn’t expecting to run into, and © openly gay.  My date followed me to the bathroom to confront me about how rude it was to speak to this other boy who I both had no interest in and who had no interest in me. When I relay this story to my present-day friends (who know neither one of these boys), they think it’s cute.  It’s not cute.  It’s both insulting and terrifying.  I hate this plot point because it’s all fun and games until it actually happens to you.

Anyway. Lily actually has the audacity to be upset that Dash isn’t acting like a possessive idiot.  Actually, Lily has the audacity to get upset by just about everything, because the world apparently revolves around her and must cater to her every whim and desire.  I don’t remember her character behaving this way in the previous book, so I’m not entirely sure what happened to her in the year between these novels.

Dash is, I suppose, much less “snarly” than he was in the previous book.  I didn’t really care for his character the first time around, but he’s slightly better here.  (Certainly much better than whiny, bratty Lily.)  I felt bad for him for having to deal with creating one grand gesture after another just so that his girlfriend wouldn’t break up with him.  (I mean, is that the message the authors were trying to send?  Relationships shouldn’t be so much work.)

I guess, in the end, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares didn’t really need a sequel.  This book feels forced and awkward and it’s not up to the standards that I expect from either of the authors.  Even at a mere 215 pages, it feels long and I had to force myself to continue reading in hopes that the ending would be worth it.  (It was okay, I guess, but not great.)

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

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