Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Photo taken from Goodreads

Book Info

Title:  Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist 

Author:  Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Language: English
Format:  Paperback 
Pages:  183 pages
ISBN-10:  0375835334
ISBN-13:  978-0375835339
Source:  Purchased, Fully Booked

From Goodreads:

"It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date."

It is confirmed – I have definitely read all of Rachel Cohn’s and David Levithan’s work backwards, beginning with Dash and Lily, then Naomi and Ely, and now, Nick and Norah.

I have watched the movie version and I totally loved it, but this book was a very different adventure.  Not because this book was bad – it wasn’t.  The movie could not even compare.

Flashback to when I was eight years old and just watched The Little Mermaid in the movies:  My mother said, “Everything becomes different in movies.”  She couldn’t have been more spot-on.  Aside from changing storylines, the experience of reading about it instead of watching it has always been more significant to me.  If anything, it’s my imagination that is at work – not that of the director’s, or the scriptwriter’s or even the costume designer’s.  I am the one who decides how Nick and Norah looks like, and although Michael Cera came a bit close to the Nick in my head, but Norah was way, way off Kat Dennings. 

And so because this is the last book (for now) that I would be reading from this dynamic writing duo, I felt that I owed it to them to do a different style of book review for this book.  And because Levithan’s books make me play music in my head as I read, I thought making a playlist for the different aspects I loved about this book would be cool. 

Here goes:

The Fight is Over by Urbandub. 
Breakup Song

Nick and Tris, Norah and Tal.  Tris broke up with Nick and he could not move on; meanwhile, Norah is in a controlling relationship with Tal, which has left her cold and a teeny bit disillusioned.  The relationship of these two pairs of ‘ex-lovers’ were shown quite effectively without too much storytelling.  Yes, Nick’s parts obviously focus around the breakup with Tris but it is not hard to grasp the gravity of the situation for him, and elicited just the right amount of sympathy without seeming to be too trying hard or pathetic.  As for Norah and Tal, the story of their relationship is much less ‘out there’ than Nick’s, but it is also very easy to understand without too much ‘garnishing’ that try to force emotions from readers, but only succeed in making them irritated because of too much uncomfortable and unnecessary details. 

Don’t Call It Love by Vinyl Pinups
The Kiss

When Nick asked Norah if she’d be his five-minute girlfriend, Norah answered by giving him a kiss.  And that’s when they both realized that something is bound to happen between them.  However, none of them knew yet what they were in for, and were still in denial about what is happening.  That’s why I think this song fit that moment perfectly, not just for its slow sound, but also for the lyrics.  That Kiss between Nick and Norah was excellently described; it felt like we were actually watching it instead of just reading about it, but better.

Help I’m Alive by Metric
For the Characters

The characters are very human and believable, and quite likable.  Even Tal and Tris, with their impossibly possible irritating traits like constantly interrupting a potentially sweet moment for Nick and Norah, were actually very funny and endearing, especially Norah’s revelation of Tris as an occasional good friend.  Have you noticed that Nick and Norah have names that start with ‘N’ while they’re exes’ names both begin with a ‘T’?  I wonder if it has some significance.  I also like how some characters only had small parts in the story and yet drew a huge impact, from me, at least.  I especially liked Norah’s Dad for being ‘such a dad,’ and because even if he was mentioned just briefly, it was for me, one of the best parts of the book. 

Give A Little More by Maroon 5
For the Writing

In my opinion, although this is a great story on its own, the next two books written by Cohn and Levithan read a bit better and had more solid writing to back up their stories.  I guess as time passes and with more practice, we really do get better at things we do, considering that Dash and Lily is my favorite among the three books they wrote together.  But that is not to say that this book is not good.  I liked the plot, the storyline, and the dialogue.  And judging this book by its own merit, I could still say that this is up there with those other really cool stories for the YA genre.  The voices were distinct and quirky, very solid.  It was intelligently written and had a great lyrical, smooth tone.  The story, told through two points of view, flowed seamlessly and effortlessly, and did not sound redundant.  Some books that do multiple points of view tended to repeat a single scene through their heads which can sometimes be confusing and tiring because you get to read about one scene several times, with the views rotated among the characters but nonetheless still the same.  In this book, a scene is examined by both Nick and Norah only if it is important enough.  If not, it would only be mentioned in passing just so the connection between their stories does not get broken. 

Hey Hey You by Vinyl Pinups
For the Whole Book, Part 1

This is the song that played through my head throughout the story.  Obviously, the song mostly referred to how Nick and Norah met, but the upbeat tempo also made me think of their two personalities.  I know that Nick is very hardcore punk, and Norah is such a music snob they’re sure to be offended by how little I know about music, but as I said, if I like the beat, I listen to it.  And I like the beat of this song in the same way that I liked their catchy story. 

I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
For the Whole Book, Part 2

So it turns out, I actually have a little music taste.  But that’s because this song was mentioned in the book and when Dev mentioned this to Nick, it automatically started playing in my head, and I thought, Yeah, this is a great song for this book.  This is exactly what Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is all about.  Nick needed to hold someone’s hand to help him get through his breakup with Tris.  Norah needed someone to hold hands with in order to get her through life.

And then, it was mentioned there that every pop song sang today could be traced to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, and somehow, this book by Cohn and Levithan is sort of a pioneer of its own type of fiction:  The light, easy, compelling, and fun love story between two young people in search of their own place in the world.  Not just once did I see a book that remotely resembles the theme of Nick and Norah, and I daresay this book is one of the inspirations for those other stories. 


If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way.

Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions. 


  1. I like how you spice up your reviews. It's awesome. Good job, Nina!

  2. aah, i love your reviews Nina, as you know. I haven't read this nor have I seen the movie but I'd like to do both!

    I'm also going to give you an award but I didn't do the post yet so once I do it then I will post a link! So congrats in advance haha.

  3. Okay here ya go, post is up:

    And good luck with your real life stuff. I totally know what you mean!

  4. Ooh, it makes me so happy to hear you loved this one more than the movie (which I also loved). Sometimes I find it hard to read a book after having watched the movie first but I think I would like to give this one a try for sure!

  5. It's funny I started to read your review and just the first sentence about reading the books backwards caught my eyes because that's the order in which I bought those books. Dash, Eli and then Nick. :)(I haven't read them yet though)

    Hey I was gonna also let you know I wanted to try and send some books to you from BD. Email me and let me know if that's ok. bookserieslover (at) hotmail (dot) com

  6. I watched the movie to this which i found odd to follow! Because the start is so sudden..! But at some odd level i liked it! I want to read this book, esp after you review!! I love it so much- you review i mean!!! I love how you've used a funky review style and I youtubed all those tracks (except the Don't call it love which i couldn't find :/) just gave me a brand new playlist! :D Super review!!:D

  7. Want to read this so badly!!!!!!


I just have to tell you, ARGH feeds on awesomeness, so if you can, drop him some awesome here, and I promise to give some awesome back :D

Right now, because of my really busy schedule, I'm cutting back on receiving awards. So until further notice, me and ARGH would not be accepting awards. But thank you for thinking of us, we really appreciate it!