Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Review: Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List
Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Summary: Naomi and Ely are life-long best friends. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but he prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works - until Bruce the Second. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely has kissed Bruce, too. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution."
My thoughts: I adored this pair's first collaboration, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, so I was very excited to see this book come out. It gets docked 1/2 a star because Naomi and Ely really frustrated me at the beginning - I wanted to knock their heads together and tell them to grow up. And Naomi's habit of using computer icons in place of words is a tad annoying. And also, instead of the chapters being Naomi, Ely, Naomi, Ely - there are other friends, boyfriends, wanna-be boyfriends narrating the story. This provided different perspectives, and I think it was good to have Bruce the Second and Gabriel (the hot young doorman with his eye on Naomi), since they were directly involved, but there's a whole subbplot about two of their friends, Robin-girl and Robin-guy, that wasn't really necessary and muddied things up a bit for me.
I enjoyed the pop culture references to Dawson's Creek and Buffy. At first I thought they weren't very current, but with some math I realized they would've been young teenagers when the shows were on. (I'm a new Buffy convert - I didn't watch it until it was on DVD and only recently finished the last season.) I loved Gabriel's inclusion of the Buffy musical's "Walk Through the Fire" on his mix CD for Naomi: "[Your mom] told me how you cry and cry for Buffy. You cry when Angel shows up to be Buffy's prom date even though they've already recognized the futility of their true love and have broken up. You cry when Buffy's mom is taken away by natural instead of supermatureal causes. You cry when season six and seven really don't reflect the quality of seasons one through five except for the musical episode." I'm with ya on all of those, Naomi! :)
But, anyway, without me knocking them together, Naomi and Ely do grow up. And that's what gave it the extra 1/2 star for me, the ending is really lovely and true. It's an interesting coming-of-age story because technically, they've already come of age - they're physically grown, they're in university, one of them has had sex, etc. But by the end of the book, they've taken it to a new level and learned about true romantic love and true friendship (both are equal types of love, both are hard), letting go, moving on, and accepting change. I enjoyed Ely's realization at the end that he wanted his own damn soul, he doesn't want a soulmate in either a lover or a friend. But being close, in both friendship and love, is wonderful.
It all gets summed up simply and beautifully at the end: "It's a total lie to say there's only one person you're going to be with for the rest of your life. If you're lucky - and if you try really hard - there will always be more than one."