There’s a part of my brain going “Dude! Publish a review of The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily for Christmas!” because in my brain Christmas is still a very long way away (we’re talking months), and it’d be sooo original to write a review of a Christmas book for Christmas, wouldn’t it? But apparently it is in fact December, and only a couple of weeks out from Christmas Day, so I’m not as premature in posting this as my brain thinks I am.
I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares several years ago, at the age of thirteen or so. I remember enjoying it immensely, which says a lot because I read very little contemporary fiction back then. I never thought to expect a sequel, so when I heard that The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily was being published, I was surprised. Pleasantly, because I knew my younger self had enjoyed the first book, but I’ll admit I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a sequel.
Because it had been so long, I decided to reread Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares before reading The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily (henceforth referred to as Dash and Lily and The Twelve Days respectively because those titles are a lot of work to constantly type out). I don’t think I loved it as much this time as I had when I was thirteen, but that said, I still found it pretty enjoyable. It was cute and fluffy and very sweet, and it accomplished what it set out to do. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, and won’t be making the list of my all-time favourite books, but I had fun reading it.
Memory refreshed, I could happily read The Twelve Days. Synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads, below:
Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favorite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.
With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favorite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.
I feel like The Twelve Days suffered from a bit of Second Book Syndrome. Dash and Lily’s story was sufficiently concluded in the first book, and I didn’t think that the sequel added anything significant to their story. I gave both books for 3.5 stars, but I had very different feelings about each of them. Dash and Lily was fun but a little vanilla, while I couldn’t put The Twelve Days down, but it was missing the charm and fun of the first book.
Lily had gone through a lot in the year since Dash and Lily and it’s clear that her grandfather’s failing health is weighing heavily on her and she can’t can’t bring herself to be the cheery, optimistic person everyone knows. Rereading the first book, I noticed that Lily was rather immature, but it was balanced by a sweetness that meant she was still a likeable character. But in The Twelve Days, she lost much of the sweetness and she ended up being kind of bratty, with one of my character pet peeves rearing its head.
Said pet peeve is when something happens in a story and all a character cares about is how it impacts them. Maybe it’s realistic, maybe it isn’t, but selfish characters get on my nerve. It’s not so much the fact that they’re upset by whatever event happens, it’s the lack of conflicting emotions that would probably make it more realistic. A little “this is horrible! But it’ll make them happy! But how could they do this to me?” and I’d probably be happy. Lily, unfortunately, lives up to this pet peeve several times during the story, and was more selfish than I remember her being in the first book.
Example: (Not really a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know any deets about the story, skip this paragraph) Her brother Langston tells her he’s moving in with his boyfriend. Lily’s reaction is something along the lines of how could you do this to me? In fairness, Lily is going through a lot, and Langston might have chosen a better time to tell her, but his decision to move out wasn’t about Lily, and yet in Lily’s mind it is.
There were some hints of brilliance in terms of Lily’s character development at times. The familiar angst of trying to be more mature and knowing you aren’t a child any more, but not quite recognising yourself as the adult you’re trying to be. In these moments, when Lily is wrestling between maturity and immaturity, the story is at its strongest and most recognisable. I only wish there were more of these moments.
Dash was Dash. He didn’t really seem to change from the previous book to this one. Considering I was mostly unhappy with how Lily had changed, I was a little relieved to be on familiar ground with Dash. But still. There were opportunities for growth, and I didn’t really see any.
I enjoyed revisiting the supporting characters. Boomer was as sweet and guileless as ever. Mrs Basil E was formidable. I liked seeing a bit more of the parental units of both Dash and Lily in this book. I was a fan of Lily’s mother, who gives Lily some very good advice (and basically what I was wanting to shout at her, but a bit more articulate).
Going back to what I said about this book suffering from Second Book Syndrome, it also had a nasty case of characters-got-together-and-were-happy-at-the-end-of-the-first-book-so-let’s-put-the-relationship-in-danger-at-the-start-of-the-second. I didn’t really buy a lot of what went on in terms of Dash and Lily’s relationship in The Twelve Days. Not so much the fact that their relationship was more uncertain and at risk of ending (although we had a considerable amount of miscommunication going on, that felt a little OTT). But (MILD SPOILER WARNING, SKIP TO END OF PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE MILDLY SPOILED) there’s a point where Dash and Lily kiss and make up, and they go from just about broken up to astronomical levels of lovey-dovey, with none of their issues (ever really) resolved. There’s a little bit of uncertainty in the relationship after that point, but it was too fast a 180 for me to buy it.
One of the main aspects of Dash and Lily was the dares and quests they sent each other on. They weren’t nearly so prominent in The Twelve Days, and I felt like those that were included pushed my suspension of belief a little too far. Even with Lily’s extensive family and all its connections, the quests that Dash and Lily were pulling off seemed a bit too unbelievable.
All that said, I couldn’t put The Twelve Days down. How much of that was due to the writing and how much was due to the fact that my body clock was a little bit messed up and it was 3am and I couldn’t sleep and my brain was a bit goopy and only able to focus on one thing at a time. But I read most of it in a sitting, which at the very least says it was engaging.
I wasn’t overly impressed with The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, and although there were elements I liked, as a general rule I thought it wasn’t a necessary sequel.