by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Reading level: YA
When Dash finds a red Moleskine notebook in one of New York City's most famous bookstores, he doesn't realize that he's about to get sucked into a scavenger hunt that will take him around the city. As he and Lily (the girl on the other side of the Moleskine) pass the notebook back and forth, they share information and insights about their lives, as well as send each other to significant places around the city during one of the busiest times of the year.
I've still got a couple of weeks with this one (it's a library book... thank goodness), but every time I try to pick it up and read it, I set it back down again. It feels like work. Actually, it feels like high school all over again, when you had to read an awful, boring, horrible novel just because it was a "classic" and everybody should read it at least once. I'm going to invoke one of my New Year's resolutions and allow myself to abandon this one. While I do want to know what happens -- and why everybody has gone gaga over this book -- I don't want to know that badly.
Was the premise bad? No... actually, the premise is pretty cool. Was the writing bad? Not really; in comparison to some other YA books out there at the moment, it was practically a literary masterpiece. For me, there was one main problem... and it's one I just can't get past: I simply loathe these characters.
Dash and Lily are extremely annoying. They both remind me of that stereotypical angst-ridden kid that was in your homeroom in high school, the one who walked around with a Moleskine and thought they were smarter than everyone else, who secretly longed for friends but had none because they were paradoxically too stupid to realize that nobody wanted to be friends with someone who looked down on others and thought they were morons. Dash has one friend, Boomer, and this friendship makes no sense to me because Boomer seems almost mentally challenged, and I have a hard time believing that Dash would deign to be friends with someone not on his intellectual level. Lily apparently has no friends, and it's not surprising because she's kind of unstable and very immature (she actually shrieks at some women in the movie theatre who dare -- oh, horrors! -- to compliment her shoes).
Through these characters, the book tried to be clever, insightful, and funny... but it came off as pretentious, distasteful, and annoying. Macy's probably has a case if they want to sue for libel after the implications that their bedding department is full of dead vermin and they hire pedophiles to play Santa Claus. (That was probably the beginning of the end for me. The scene was probably supposed to be funny, but I found it disturbing and disgusting. No, Lily, your Uncle Sal isn't just "huggy". He should be in jail.)
For the sake of full disclosure, I'll say that I only got about a quarter of the way through this book. But I just can't take any more. At this point, I'm not enjoying the book. At all. It could have been good... but the characters are just too annoying to put up with for even one more page.
Overall: 2 out of 5