“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
A few years ago I took a trip to Melbourne to visit a friend, and I stumbled across the movie adaptation of this novel in the video store. It sounded like an awesome story so I made a mental note to hire it out once I was home.
A few months ago I finally got around to watching the DVD. The over-all verdict of the movie? Terrible. Then I discovered that the movie was based off a novel, and decided to find out if the book was any better than the movie.
I’m pleased to report that it was much better. Let’s recap what the story is about.
The narrative of this story is shared between Nick (written by David Levithan) and Norah (Rachel Cohn), in alternating chapters. The general plot of the story is simple – Nick is dumped by his ex-girlfriend, Tris, because he starts to get too serious. While Nick is on stage playing with his band he sees Tris in the crowd with her new boyfriend. Nick spontaneously asks Norah, whom he has previously never met, to be his five-minute girlfriend. Norah, who knows more about Nick due to the mix CD’s he made Tris (which Norah swiped), agrees thinking Nick can give her and her drunk friend Caroline a ride home. Nick’s car doesn’t start though, but his band mates/friends agree to take Caroline home, and give Norah $50 to take Nick out and get him to have some fun. As the story develops, so too does the fascination between Nick and Norah, and as it turns out, they are each exactly what the other person needs. Their passion of music brings them together, and Nick and Norah spend the night working through their emotions about their respective Ex’s, and their newly developed feelings for one another.
While the movie was dismal, the actual novel itself is quite good. I didn’t mind the alternation of the narrative between Nick and Norah – in fact, I found it refreshing and really easy to read. Both voices are quite distinctive so it’s easy to tell which character is currently narrating. I’m pleased that the crappy parts of the movie (excessive vomiting, and a rank piece of chewing gum that travels between characters) are actually not in the book at all. In fact, Norah’s drunk best friend, Caroline, doesn’t get to much attention in the books, except for when it’s necessary.
I really like the storyline of this book – when I was in my teens, I felt as though music was a way that I connected with other people, and I was just as much as a music snob as Nick and Norah are in the book. My only complaint is that even though it’s a young adult fiction book, there is WAY too much swearing in it. On one page alone there were about 40 fuck‘s which a) really didn’t need to be there and b) kinda took away from the voice of the character. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be swearing in the book, but I just think that they could have toned it down a touch. That being said, I’d probably swear as much as Nick did if my car didn’t start in the middle of the night …
The good news is that the narrative flows really smoothly between chapters and I like that the authors give insight to one character from the other. It’s a great story, very easy to read and follow which is always a positive in opinion.
Overall rating: 3.5/5