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Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: 02/18/10

When I read, I often tweet about what I'm reading. I made a comparison between Project Anastrophe and The Thin Man (1934). See the characters in both are called Nick and Nora (not Norah). Anyway, on one of my tweets I called the ARC I was reading "Nick and Nora in Space." For clarity I should have called it "The Thin Man in Space" but in the "tweet of the moment" I didn't.

My tweet got a response recommending Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I don't know if it was a recommendation for the book or the film adaptation. From the description of the film, I think I would like it more than I did the book. Anyway, I happened to see the book at my library and thought I'd give it a try.

The novel is cowritten by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Rachel took Norah's parts and David took Nick's parts. Cowritten books like this seem like a good idea in the abstract  but they rarely seem to work as planned. The competing voices don't blend as well as they should and the book ends up feeling disjointed.

Beyond the wildly different voices, there's the problem of two "too perfect" characters having a wildly out of control in Manhattan over the course of a night and morning. Marty Stu (Nick) and Mary Sue (Norah) end up together after Nick asks her to be his five minute girl friend to avoid a painful confrontation with his ex. From there they hook up and go on their adventure, one which is punctuated by their own personal soundtracks.

Many of the negative reviews cite the swearing. The use of fuck and all it's variations doesn't bother me. I can safely say it's the only thing that doesn't bother me about the book. What ultimately had me tossing the book aside was Norah worrying about being frigid. She's what, a teenager? And a straight-laced one. And here she is not even an adult (or barely an adult) and she's repeatedly using an out of date word to worry about her sex life? What teen (ever?).

When Nick and Norah are talking about, listening to, or playing music, the novel is at its best. The rest of the time they act like sexually dissatisfied thirty-somethings in teenage bodies. It doesn't work.

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Comment #1: Friday, February, 19, 2010 at 12:24:22


I saw the movie, and it is one of my faves now... but have yet to read the book. Generally I enjoy the book more, so I will be sure to check it out.

Great review!

Comment #2: Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 18:02:22


I've heard that the film is very different from the book.

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