Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi and Ely have been best friends since they were kids. They’ve grown up together in the same apartment building, depended on each other for support during crises, and in fact practically become one organic entity naomiely. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both extremely attractive, cool, and so desired by many. So desired in fact, that in order to protect their friendship they’ve created a No Kiss List, where people who are on the list will never have the pleasure of being kissed by either of them. That way no one will ever come between them. Until of course, someone does.

To make a long story short Ely is gay, Naomi knows that, but doesn’t really KNOW it know it. She still secretly harbors a fantasy where Ely might be gay, but is actually truly completely in love with her and so the fact that she isn’t the right gender doesn’t matter. She knows they’ll get married (like they planned when they were kids), have some babies, and live the rest of their life together 4eva. When the fantasy finally collapses, so does their friendship. What is there to salvage when so much of the foundation is built on half-truths and omissions?

As most people probably know this is the second book that these authors have collaborated on. The first, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, although wildly popular amongst many was not a personal favorite of mine. So I was very curious to see whether or not I would like their follow up.

And like it I did. It was told from several perspectives (whereas Nick and Norah’s was just two). I liked the tension between the two main characters and how the other character’s perspectives widened our knowledge of who they really were, how they really acted, and how they were perceived by “outsiders.” I liked the quirkiness of the story (especially the nicknames of Bruce the first and Bruce the second). I liked how they managed to bring music into this story (although what a trend in YA lit now…), how they came to a better understanding of each other and themselves, and how they seemed to be better people at the end of the book but without the after school special feeling.

Did I like the characters? Well…I found them to be pretty self-absorbed and kind of mean. Sure they were beautiful and cool, but would I actually want to be friends with them? I don’t think so. Could I relate to them? Not so much. I thought they suffered a bit from the same forced “hipness” that the characters from Nick and Norah’s exhibited. It distanced me from the characters. Even when it was a scene where they were vulnerable I didn’t really feel bad for them, I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen next, but I didn’t empathize with them as much as I usually do when I’m reading. But all in all, I enjoyed it and more importantly I think a whole bunch of teenagers are going to really like it.

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