Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Series: N/A
Pages: 183
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Release Date: May 23, 2006
How Received: Library

Summary:: It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s new show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

My Thoughts:
This is a hit or miss novel, really. It will offend some people, and others won’t be fazed. I’m one of those in the latter group.

Let me start with the more “controversial” topics. There is a LOT of cursing and vulgarity in the book – I’m sure about every page has the f-bomb. Terms of endearment towards friends start with the letter B and rhyme with witch. So if that offends you, or you want to screen books for your children, don’t read this book. Personally, I found that the excessive profanity made the book more real and made an accurate representation of many present-day teenagers. I’ve been a part of the whole punk/music scene and I know first-hand that a lot of music clubs and the teenagers that illegally visit these clubs really do act the way Nick and Norah do. There are drugs, profanity, and lots of sex in this “scene”, much like there was in this book. I felt like I was reading about my old friends’ everyday lives rather than an account of Nick and Norah’s story.

Cohn writes Norah’s perspective, while Levithan writes Nick’s. As this was my very first book with alternate writers per character, I thought this was very cool. It gives the reader a chance to look at both sides of the story – if Norah does something Nick doesn’t understand while we’re reading about Nick, we hear Norah justifying her actions in her narrative. It’s also a nice insight to see how the two of them slowly begin to fall for each other.

Nick was your all around nice guy (well, as nice as a cursing queercore bassist who is suffering heartbreak can get). Norah is most stoic, frigid. She’s been hurt in the past, and that’s what she thinks her future is set up for. She settles for less than the best. The pair are both heartbroken but they steadily overcome their woes (not indefinitely, yet) through music, camaraderie, and each other.

I enjoyed the incorporation of playlists into the novel, and simply loved Nick’s taste in music. I loved almost every song that was referenced and even played out certain songs while I was reading to get more connected to the novel. Nick wrote his own lyrics, too, and I found myself similarly impressed with the lyrics of Noticing that Levithan created.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is very fast-paced. Events and internal dialogue run and blend together very rapidly. The book takes the course of one night and despite how short that seems, a LOT of stuff goes down. I felt like I was being taken on a wild ride, wondering where I’d stop.

Cover Musings: It’s very simple, and I like it that way. I didn’t notice the heart was made of earplugs until closer inspection. It’s cute, it alludes to music, it’s nice.

Memorable Quotes:
“The streets are empty. I am empty. Or, no—I am full of pain. It’s my life that’s empty.” (pg. 26)

The way you’re singing in your sleep
The way you look before you leap
The strange illusions that you keep
You don’t know
But I’m noticing

The way your touch turns into arcs
The way you slide into the dark
The beating of my open heart
You don’t know
But I’m noticing (pg. 137)

‘Basically, it [tikkun olam] says that the world has been broken into pieces. All this chaos, all this discord. And our job—everyone’s job—is to try to put the pieces back together. To make things whole again.’ (pg. 143)

‘Maybe that’s it,’ I say gently. ‘With what you were talking about before. The world being broken. Maybe it isn’t that we’re supposed to find the pieces and put them back together. Maybe we’re the pieces.’
‘Maybe,’ I say, ‘what we’re supposed to do is come together. That’s how we stop the breaking.’
Tikkun olam. (pg. 145)

‘When we get to Ludlow, I remember the song I began to write, in an hour that seems like weeks ago now. The song was never really over, but now I have the ending. [...] I shouldn’t want the song to end. I always think of each night as a song. Or each moment as a song. But now I’m seeing we don’t live in a single song. We move from song to song, from lyric to lyric, from chord to chord. There is no ending here. It’s an infinite playlist.’ (pg. 173-174)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I loved this book, because it’s an accurate representation of a lot of teenagers – it helps those who have seen it all, such as myself, connect to the characters more. The authors deal with very real emotions, such as angst, heartbreak, nerves, confusion, the fear of getting hurt again, and hope for the future. It also made me really want to go and experience nightlife in Manhattan!

On a sidenote, I equally loved the movie version of this. Anything with Michael Cera in it is bound to be scrumptiously yummy. <3

Rating: 4/5

Extra: I included the movie trailer, which was pretty much almost the same as the book.


Angela Tolsma said...

I loved the movie. I didn't know there was a book. Will have to look for it next time I'm in chapters. Great review!!

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

I didn't know there was a book until I saw it in the library, either! I had watched the movie while I was on vacation in Texas, and loved it, so when I saw this on the library shelf, I had to grab it. It's a really fast read -- only 183 pages! :D

Amber said...

I loved this book too. I saw the movie first and loved it so much I picked up the book. I read it in one delicious sitting and like you, loved the story told in alternating perspectives by two different writers. This whirlwind night was beautiful and believable. I loved that we as readers could enter into their world without feeling judged which is really hard to do if you aren't part of that "scene". Thanks for the review!

Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books said...

This is one of my favourite books EVER. I read it before the film, so I was so excited when it came to screen. It's a bit different from the book (to be expected) but I love both!

Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books

Ella Preuss said...

LOVE the film, but haven't read this. I loved your review too, I think I'd enjoy the different POVs, and the fact that it's more real than fiction is a plus too.

And Michael Cera, yum. <3

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Wow, I'm so glad a lot of you enjoyed it too! :)

@Amber: I watched the movie before the book, also! I had no idea that the characters were actually portrayed by different authors until I finished, though! I could tell from differences in their writing, but it never really occurred to me. Cohn and Levithan also collaborated on other works, too, so I'm pretty excited to read those!

@Brittany: I completely agree with you! <3 I also loved both versions -- the movie had the music incorporated in it, and it was more wild and out of control, whereas the book was a -bit- more tame and focused on Nick and Norah's inner monologues more. :)

@Ella: You should read it! :) There are several differences between book and movie, such as who asks who out first (Norah does it in the movie, Nick does it in the book) and Tris's personality.

And heck yeah, Michael Cera is totally delish. <3

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