Saturday, March 03, 2007

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist--Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Title: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Pages: 183 p.
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0375835318

I read this book in one day. For some of you that might not be a big accomplishment. Considering the fact that I am a full time working mom and if you look at the frequency, or lack thereof, with which I manage to post here, I think you too will agree that this is indeed a big deal for me. I was helped by the fact that I was stuck in a doctor's waiting room and it was a relatively slow night at the ref desk. And that I just *couldn't* put it down.

The story opens with Nick performing with his queercore band and Norah in the audience. Nick sees his ex-girlfriend Tris, panics, and asks complete stranger Norah to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes. Norah knows Tris and for a variety of reasons agrees to Nick's strange request. Five minutes turns into something much much longer.

The story is told from both points of view in alternating chapters. Rachel Cohn wrote the Norah parts and David Levithan wrote the Nick parts. Collaborative novels are always hit and miss with me. Particularly ones that are written this way where one author takes one character; I find that a lot of the time when the one author has to write dialogue for the other character it doesn't sound quite right. Cohn & Levithan managed to avoid this problem. If it hadn't been for the title page I wouldn't have known that two authors wrote this. There were no inconsistencies, nothing sounded false, nothing sounded like it was just thrown together. It's actually quite amazing that both voices were as riveting and compelling as they were.

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I was a little upset that I didn't know anything about the queercore punk/metal scene but now I do(thanks wikipedia). There's lots of language in this book--the f bomb makes a regular appearance--as well as sexual situations and it totally suits the characters and the story. Nothing is gratuitous. This is not a middle school novel. It's a wonderfully written, well-told love story for high school teens.

On My Nightstand:

An Abundance of Katherines--John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Pages: 227 p.
Publisher: Dutton Books
ISBN: 0525476881

John Green's follow up to his award winning first novel Looking for Alaska is just as entertaining and well-written, although not as heartbreaking. Colin Singleton has made a habit out of only dating (and getting dumped by) girls named Katherine. When Katherine 19 breaks up with him he and his best friend Hassan embark on a road trip to nowhere to break Colin's depression. Colin, who happens to be a child prodigy hoping to one day be a genius, decides to find a formula based on his history with Katherines that would predict the outcome of all romantic relationships. The two get sidetracked in a small town in Tennessee and Colin discovers much more than a formula.

Although Colin is a bit whiny and tends to drive people (Katherines) away with his constant need of approval and his low self-esteem, he is at heart a likable character. The friendship between him and Hassan is realistically portrayed and entertaining. Hassan is the comedic relief who slaps some sense into Colin. In Tennessee they meet up with Lindsey who also brings Colin back to reality.

Green includes footnotes throughout the story, especially when Hassan tells Colin that some piece of knowledge he is about to impart is not interesting, allowing readers to judge for themselves. As a geek, I found the footnotes very interesting. There's also an appendix explaining the math used in the formula. I haven't gotten around to reading that yet but I intend to.

While this is by no means a fluffy feel good novel, it is not as emotionally heartbreaking or significant as Alaska. It is a bit lighter, with funnier moments, and a less intense plot. It is definitely an enjoyable read and highly recommended. I think it would suit high schoolers more since they tend to have more of a romantic life-history and the angst that goes along with graduating from high school and not knowing what's going on in your life.

On My Nightstand:

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