Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I’ve been meaning to read this since the trailers for the film first came out; but of course at that point, everybody else had the exact same idea, and all the copies were checked out of the library.  And I felt a little sheepish checking it out in the first place because I am older than its target audience, but not by a comfortable enough margin – like when I was in elementary school and I still watched Sesame Street but I couldn’t admit it for another few years yet – so I didn’t want to put the book on hold.  Even the day before yesterday, when I checked it out, I slipped it between two other books: a habit I acquired at the main branch of the library when checking out books I was sheepish about getting, because one of the librarians at the main branch always judges my books.

I also read about it at Darla’s blog, and it sounded sweet.

This book is about Nick and Norah, who are both coming off crappy relationships with people who didn’t treat them well.  They meet when Nick’s band is playing and his ex-girlfriend Tris shows up with her new arm candy: Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes.  Things go on from there – not always going swimmingly, as Nick is hung up on Tris and Norah has a chip on her shoulder the size of Manhattan, but certainly going.

Ordinarily I am not a big compare-the-book-to-the-film type of girl, but in this case I think there are things about both the book and the film that are better than each other, so hell, I’m going to go ahead and compare ‘em.  I think that the arc of Nick and Norah’s relationship is better developed in the book, that whole becoming-the-perfect-first-night business.  And as well, Tris is a much more interesting and well-developed character than she is in the movie, and her relationships with both Nick and Norah are better too.  Tal and Caroline, on the other hand, don’t get a lot of screen time (as it were), and you never get a really good sense of who they are, in themselves or to Norah.  I don’t know how much better this is in the film – I’d have to see it again – but at least in the film, you have a face in your mind to put with the actions, and Caroline was very funny.  Plus, a big deal is made about Nick giving his jacket to Norah, and I love jackets.  I had a perfect jacket once, though it’s gone now.

On the other hand, I thought the film was more fun and amusing.  The film reminded me a bit of the good things about Martin Millar’s books, where several different things are going on throughout the film and then they all come together nicely at the end: looking for Where’s Fluffy, tracking down Caroline – that lot.  (Particularly tracking down Caroline – that gave a better idea of her relationship with Norah.)  It reminds me of this interview I read with Johnny Depp after Pirates of the Caribbean first came out, where he was talking about how simple his character’s motives are, how he just wants his boat.  Johnny Depp liked the purity of that, and so do I; so although there were other things going on, I liked it how the main thing was, let’s find this band, we’ll be happy once we’ve found this band.  That was good.  I like that in a movie (or a book – whatever).

The other thing that bothered the shit out of me was these long paragraphs that just sort of streamed on all in one sentence, when they’re involved in thinking about sex or music or dancing, or some combination of the three.  I really do appreciate the value of run-on sentences, sometimes, but you have to know where to draw the line.  My rules, which I made up on purpose for this book, are as follows: a sentence that goes on and on with clauses and clauses, to reflect the narrator’s not-quite-clear mental state, should never occupy a paragraph that takes up more than half of a page; and there should not be more than two of these for each hundred pages of a book.  One every fifty pages, that’s all you can have, and even that is pushing it.  I kept skipping ahead several pages to escape from the running on and on of the sentences, and then I sometimes skipped too far and missed plot points.  Grrrr.

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8 thoughts on “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

  1. Haha I always borrow books that are directed more for readers much much younger then me and I don’t give a crap what anybody thinks. I spend just as much time in the YA section as I do in the Adult section. A story’s a story after all right?

  2. I spend as much time browsing the YA and even juvenile fiction sections as the adult. I usually have my toddler in tow with picture books, so I hope the librarian assumes I’m picking something out for an older child who’s in school! My kid loves to check out her own books on the self-checkout machine, so usually we bypass the possibility of judgement nowdays.

  3. This one librarian drives me mad – he’s always asking me if I’m old enough to read/watch the books/movies I’m checking out (no idea how old this man thinks I am); he examines my books and says things like “You must really like science fiction” with a tone that makes “science fiction” sound roughly synonymous with “cannibalizing your family members”; if it’s a book he deems suitably wholesome he says “This looks fun!” in the most patronizing voice ever; and he makes judgey, what-is-the-world-coming-to face when I get books about women & gender issues. Oh, and he calls me by my first name like we’re friends, when really he just got it from my library card record.

  4. I don’t really go to that branch anymore – there’s another branch a few minutes from work, and I can always just get them to send the books I want to that one. This saves me from all the aggravating judgment while simultaneously saving the earth because I am not wasting gas driving all the way out to the main branch!

  5. I was pretty inlove with this book and even the movie, I’ve read it multiple times, and watched the movie quite a few. The only thing that really brought me down, was the runons! They seemed to be endless, and it was rather annoying. I think, for the most part, I like the book better, however, the whole ‘gum’ scene in the movie, it being passed around and all, was pretty entertaining. Oh, and the one thing in the movie, that I like a bit over the book, was that when Tris drags Nick away, asks him to go off road, he decides to leave her for Norah. It takes him quite awhile to get over her in the book.

    • I agree – it’s nice that he managed to move past it in the movie. I will say, though, that scene bothered me just because he was leaving her by herself on the streets at night. Not safe!

  6. Pingback: Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn « Jenny's Books

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