This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be—and where the next great band is playing.
Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you’ll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.
I saw the movie version a few years ago and liked it. Didn’t love it, but thought it was good enough. When I found out it was a book originally, I knew I had to read it – yes, I’m one of those people who always has to read the book if I see the movie – despite the luke-warm overall rating on goodreads.
Boy, am I glad I did.
Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist the book is a much more satisfying experience than the movie (and seriously, though I love him as an actor, who the hell chose to cast Michael Cera as Nick? It took about two and a half pages for me to see how wrong that was). The entire novel takes place in one adventurous, hormone-fueled, music-pumping night, when Nick-the-band-boy meets Norah-the not-wild-enough-daughter-of-a-famous-music-executive. The chapters alternate between POVs, with David Levithan writing Nick’s chapters and Rachel Cohn writing Norah’s. I enjoyed Nick’s chapters a bit more, and I attribute that to a preference for Levithan’s writing style. Though Cohn is, by no means, a detriment to the novel; she gives Norah a nicely sarcastic, realistically self-conscious, overall romantic voice that compliments Nick’s heart-broken, somewhat jaded (in the beginning, at least), ironic one perfectly.
The novel’s 183 short pages are saturated with f-bombs and sexual content, and I can see how that might turn some readers off, but I loved it. I’m a huge advocate of realistic YA, and come on. Teenagers swear and lust and experiment more than most adults, so why are most YA characters saintly virgins? Realism is important when it comes to growing adolescents, and books like Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist do a great job of giving us a realistic portrayal of almost-adults navigating through a sea of desires, doubt, questions and adrenaline. With a heavy dose of music’s importance to a lot of teens thrown in, in this case. Which I feel was done marvelously, as I was one of those music-reliant teenagers just a few years ago.
Normally, I feel like one night is not nearly enough for two characters to build a true chemistry with each other, but one night was all Nick and Norah needed. It doesn’t seem forced or rushed at all. It’s like the perfect how-we-met story, what was supposed to be five minutes of pretend-dating to save face in front of an ex-girlfriend morphing into an entire night of conversation and adventure and kisses and fun. Mistakes, and mistakes avoided.
If you’re a fan of realistic YA contemporary, read this book. If you enjoyed the movie even a little bit, read this book. If you believe in the power of music to inspire love, read this book. If you like fun, short reads that don’t answer every single question but leave a smile on your face anyway, read this book. But if you don’t want to see “fuck” littering almost every page, or scenes pushing the limits of erotic YA about as far as they can possibly be pushed, you should probably stay away.
Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist – 4 out of 5 stars