18 January 2009

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist is an example of the different levels within the genre of young adult novels. Oftentimes I believe that if a book is labeled YA, then it is safe reading material for my 15-year-old and doesn't require a pre-reading by me. I forget that there is a wide range of suitability within the YA genre, just as there is in the world of adult novels. This book definitely belongs on the adult end of the young adult shelf.

The story, authored collaboratively by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, is done in an alternating "he said, she said" style. It chronicles the meeting of a bass player and the daughter of a record company executive at a nightclub and the all-night adventure that follows. They both are trying to get over their exes, who also showed up at the same club. Will Nick and Norah let themselves fall in love, or will they go a-begging back to their former lovers?

This is the kind of book that I would have read when I was 18 and thought that it made me cooler than my peers. The prose has that hip, mile-a-minute, name-dropping cadence that is familiar to fans of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Gilmore Girls. It is the sort of writing that makes you feel like you are in with the In Crowd if you get all the references, but also makes you feel totally behind the times if you don't.

Another aspect that would be totally over my daughter's head is all the talk about sex. A major part of the text is devoted to how Norah feels about her sex life and her embarrassing lack of experience. I'm not necessarily a prude; my girl M is going to be 16 in a few weeks and I have been slowly introducing her to more mature books and movies. On her own, though, she tends to keep herself out of the deep end of the pool. In the parlance of this book, M is a straight edge. I honestly don't think she would understand much of it.

Bottom line? Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a quick and enjoyable read about that lovely and confusing rush of emotions at the beginning of a new relationship. As far as being YA, I think it stretches the boundaries of that genre. It reminds me a bit of the British show Skins, which is about teenagers but not something most parents would let a teenager watch. I know that I will be waiting a few years before I hand this book to M.


Lisa said...

I really enjoyed it, but like you would not give it to most YA readers. I think that your first sentence in the last paragraph nails it- it DID capture the rush at the beginning of something new.

Eva said...

Interesting! I got this for my younger sister (she's almost 21, though, so not super-young) because I heard it was a good read, but I haven't gotten the chance to read it yet. Maybe I'll steal it from her. :)

Dani in NC said...

I believe a 21-year-old would totally get this book. At that age, you aren't still living the situation in the book but you aren't very far removed from it.

Stephanie said...

I read this and felt terribly unhip while reading it. Of course, I would've felt terribly unhip were I to have read it when I was 18, so there you go. I agree with you 100%, that it really pushes the boundaries of YA. I wasn't overly enamored of this, but it was alright.