Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

unnamedOMG, Brooke has a proper book post up on a Monday morning. Just like the good old days. Praise be to all things holy. Seriously. Merry effin’ Christmas, y’all.

The Litwits met yesterday and we had another kick ass meetup/discussion. Our Christmas selection this year was Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which I absolutely dreaded reading. Not just on my own behalf, but on everyone in the group’s as well. I had nothing to worry about, however, as the read was mostly painless and even pleasurable for most ladies.

The book is really your typical YA fluffy contemporary. Dash and Lily are 16-year-old Manhattanites who meet through a moleskin journal they trade back and forth, completing tasks and dares they dictate to each other. It’s cute, cheesy, schmoopy, and filled with Christmas cheer and holiday cynicism.

Our group decided it’s not amazing writing or anything mind-blowing, but Levithan and Cohn have created a simple story that should be satisfying to most teenagers and way less than painful for adults to sit through. You might even find yourself smiling at bits along the way.

What’s not to like? Plenty if you’re reading with a fine-toothed comb, but there’s no need for that! Yes, Dash is pretentious and Lily is immature. Yes, many of the episodes are cliche, over-the-top, and just downright implausible. And yes, even the writing suffers due to the back and forth alternating perspectives. Cohn and Levithan are playing with the traditional writing format which sometimes works and sometimes ends in EPIC failure.

Even still, most of us liked it against our better judgment. Perhaps it’s just the Christmas magic?

Speaking of Christmas magic, how about some Norman Reedus while we suffer through the TWD midseason withdrawals?

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

6567017Will Grayson, Will Grayson is only my second run in with John Green and my first with David Levithan.  I’ve been rec’d this book so many times that it’s shameful how long it has sat on my shelves neglected.  To be honest, I’m trying to space my John Green reading experiences out a bit since I’ve heard he writes the exact same characters over and over again.  He does them well, though, so I’m willing to overlook the redundancy.

In this particular story, Green and Levithan alternate chapters.  Each author writes from the perspective of one Will Grayson – yes, there are two (hence the title).  Basically, two high school students from the Chicagoland area meet randomly in a porn shop one night and discover they share the same name.  Their lives become intertwined through their mutual friendship with Tiny Cooper, a very large and very gay teen writing a musical based on his life.

This novel was a decent YA read and probably on my top 5 favorite YA reads for 2012.  I much preferred John Green’s Will Grayson which shocked me, especially considering the two characters are not wildly different.  At times, the only way I could tell them apart was that Levithan chose to write in all lowercase.  Levithan’s Will just was so dark, depressed, and hard to grasp as a well-rounded character.  I do appreciate his look into a kid struggling with clinical depression, especially a young man.  We don’t often get that perspective.  Also, Levithan’s Will made me laugh out loud several times.  Yay for the sarcasm!

What worked for Will Grayson, Will Grayson was, in fact, not a Will Grayson at all, but a Tiny Cooper.  I loved Tiny’s character and all the ways he met and didn’t meet gay stereotypes.  He shines throughout the entire novel, even in his cheesiest moment of triumph when his musical is finally staged.  He was also a beacon of shining light, humor, and hope which added a much needed brightness to the seriously negative natures of the two Graysons.

As you might have expected from the simple summary, there isn’t much plot in this story.  Definitely character driven which I find missing in YA literature in general.  In that respect, Green and Levithan both exceed in transcending the genre and writing a book about the young human spirit and real life challenges young adults face day-in and day-out.  They write characters that kids can see themselves in and can learn from.  And we adults can learn to understand the teenagers of today and how better to communicate with them – and even our own young selves.

My only problem was the incredible silliness of the end.  Not so much the musical itself, but the crowd’s reaction and the scheme Levithan’s Will Grayson manages to pull off.  Way over the top and completely unbelievable which didn’t seem appropriate for a novel so grounded in reality and honesty.  Not enough to dissuade me from liking the book overall, nor enough to keep me from recommending it to you fine folks!