Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Started: 26 February 2012
Finished: 27 February 2012
Where did it come from? The library booksale.
Why do I have it? I really, really enjoyed Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, so I definitely wanted to read more of Cohn & Levithan’s collaborations.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 October 2011.
What’s harder? Losing
your best friend, your boyfriend, or
both at the same time?
Summary: Naomi and Ely have been neighbors and best friends for most of their lives. Naomi sees no reason why they shouldn’t spend the rest of their lives together as well, plans that are only temporarily derailed by the fact that Ely’s gay (he’ll get over it and realize he’s meant to be with her, she’s sure). However, when Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend – and Naomi’s boyfriend kisses back – the harsh truth comes crashing home, and the formerly inseperable duo are now no longer on speaking terms. It’s a horrible fight, but each must somehow adapt to life without their other half until they can find a way back to what they had… if going back is even worth it.
Review: Cohn & Levithan do a lot of things right in Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List, and they get a lot of things right, but they didn’t quite recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle reading experience that was Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I think that’s because in Naomi & Ely’s, they tried to widen their focus but wound up overreaching. Not in terms of the plot – the best-friend break-up is a fine subject, and one that’s certainly germane to a lot of teenagers’ lives – but in terms of the number of viewpoints they tried to pack into this relatively slim book. Obviously I was expecting Naomi and Ely, but Bruce the Second (Naomi’s then Ely’s boyfriend) got almost as many pages as either of the two titular characters, plus there were chapters from the POV of Bruce the First, Gabriel the hot doorman, Bruce the First’s sister, girl Robin, boy Robin, etc., and the end result felt kind of fragmented, with segments and sub-plots that weren’t as well-developed as they could have been.
On the flip side of the too-many-POV-characters problem is that there were a multitude of characters to sympathize with when both of the leads were being insufferably bratty. I understand that both Naomi and Ely’s becoming less self-involved and immature is the main character arc, and probably the point of the book, but it still meant that for large chunks of the story, I just wanted to smack both of the leads in the head and tell them to stop acting like obnoxious children. (Recognizably obnoxious, though; I’m sure some of my teenaged behavior was no better.) I think by the end, Bruce the Second wound up being my favorite character – he was definitely the one I understood and sympathized with the most, being much less inherently drama queen-y than either Naomi or Ely, despite going through just as radical of a change in his world.
However, despite the overabundance of shifting viewpoints and other minor annoyances (I really could have lived without Naomi inserting wingdings instead of words throughout her chapters), I did quite enjoy this book. It is funny as hell in points, and really poignant in others, and the best thing about it is that it has a great way of capturing moments that are emotionally true, in language that is simultaneously beautifully observed and still genuine to the teenage experience. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Not quite as good as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Will Grayson, Will Grayson, although it’s similar to both, but anyone who enjoys contemporary YA novels should definitely pick all three of them up.
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First Line: I lie all the time.
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