Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
The Plot: Nick's band just finished playing their set in a NYC club when he sees his ex-girlfriend, Tris, with her new guy. Wanting to prove that he has also moved on (even tho he hasn't) he turns to the girl standing next to him and asks, "Will you be my girlfriend for the next five minutes?"
Norah, seeing the annoying groupie from school and wanting to do anything to avoid talking to her, say yes.
So begins the night that Nick and Norah meet.
The Good: Cohn and Levithan wrote this together, and the story is told by Nick and Norah in alternating chapters. I love that kind of stuff; like the moment when you realize that Nick's ex is Norah's annoying friend.
And I have one question for David: where is the real Nick? Cause he would so have been my book boyfriend when I was a teenager. (Tho, truthfully? Like Tris, I would have eventually found him a wee bit clingy and said good-bye.)
I love Nick, I love Norah, I love them individually and I love them together during this one magical night when they connect. I love the website that includes playlists and character blogs.
I love the music and the the punk scene. Nick is a musician; Norah, a music lover who is, how shall I put it? A wee bit snobby. She would despise me and my music taste in real life; she's one of those people to whom it's important to like a band before anyone else; and to stop liking them once other people do. It's not about the quality of the music; it's about being in the small, exclusive clique of music lovers. No doubt, Norah would disagree; but what works is that despite Norah's attitude, despite the fact that at any age I was never cool enough for these two and for their music clubs, I never feel excluded and somehow even feel included.
Take for example Tris, who in Norah's judgment is nothing more than a groupie. Norah sees no value in what groups Tris likes and doesn't like; Tris isn't as "real" as Norah is in her love of music. As the night unfolds, it turns out that Tris isn't the pure evil bitca it seemed she was at the start. One of the reasons this is great is the more evil Tris is, the more stupid Nick is for not seeing it. But, by making Tris real, Nick's love of her becomes understandable. Tris's break up with him becomes not the heartlessness he sees, but something he should have seen coming.
Did I mention the passion? Ah, the passion. The ice room.
There's also the matter of the cursing. As is true of many teens, Nick & Norah curse up a storm. I think the book would have been at least a third shorter if the F word were omitted. And the F word is used; no "Nick cursed" or "Norah said the F word." It's f*ck, f*ck, f*ck. Only with the us.
Is it realistic? Yep; I'm not going to disagree that kids use this word, use it frequently, particularly those who are leaving high school behind and somehow want to show their independence and not being children by using F for as noun, verb, adjective, adverb, gerund.... But, realistic or no, it does make it that much harder for a school library to have this in its collection and part of me wishes that Rachel and David (yeah, as if I were on first name basis) went with the whole "she cursed" instead of "she said F*ck" type of thing (much like part of me really, really hopes that Sex Kittens has a different title for the paperback, maybe S.K. and H.D. Fall In Love, because much as I adore that book and agree the title fits, I know that people aren't buying the book/ reading it because it has to be hand-sold to understandably leery parents.) While I respect the artistic choices of the writers, I also know the reality is it makes it that much harder for librarians and booksellers.
This is a great cross over book; this is one that I'd recommend to every twentysomething. Part of me wonders if it will work better with readers who aren't teens, because of the references to older films & TV shows like Heathers and My So Called Life. (Oh, and some of the references are things that they don't tell you; like, if you don't know it, you don't know it. They're not holding your hand; they don't tell you who Johnny Castle is.)
Hm, what else? I want the CD (just like I wanted CDs for Just Listen and King Dork.)
Wouldn't it be cool if two authors won the Printz?