Naomi & Ely’s No-Kiss List (By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)

26 11 2010

I really really wanted to like this one. After enjoying Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist so much, I was incredibly keen to read more of this power duo. Alas, it wasn’t to be: something’s is off here and it’s more than the froth on Ely’s Starbucks Skinny Flavored Latte. I kept on reading for the word smart-asseries on the page, but at the same time I wondered whether there’d be more than language snark here.

The setting is pretty much the same as in Nick & Norah: New York, New York, so nice they had to name it twice. The people in that setting are also pretty much the same. With David Levithan you know there’ll be gayness galore, and with Rachel Cohn, you know there’ll be powergirls in the mix. As with Nick and Norah, you also get different POVs. That’s where the similarities stop though.

Plot? 2 NY kids, Naomi and Ely – the Jen & Jack, the Will & Grace of Cohn & Levithan Land. Straight Girl Naomi, sex kitten without actual experience would like nothing more than to marry her Gay BFF she’s knows since forever and a day, and get an SUV full of kiddies with him. Guess what: not going to happen: HE IS GAY. Gay Boy kisses Straight Girl’s Boyfriend – who technically wasn’t on the No Kiss List the 2 had made to avoid any potential love strains – and an eternal friendship falls to pieces. Sides are taken. Boundaries are set. Bingo nights will never be the same again.

As for our main characters, seriously, they don’t have *any* likable character trait at all, like, at all! Naomi is a bitch: gorgeously beautiful (even Ely can’t stop gushing about how beautiful she and he’s like…gay?), self-absorbed, superficial. She’s not even bitchy in the likeable Tris-way. With Tris you knew there was something more than what meets the eye. Naomi is just blargh! Ely, come on…, the boy-slut thing gets incredibly cliché, and we’re over it, we get it: boy very much in tune with his ‘different’ sexuality. Girl, not so much. Ely also is nothing like for instance the gorgeous Tiny Cooper, that other boy-slut from Will Grayson, Will Grayson (to which Levithan also contributed): at least Tiny was funny! Ely is urgh, over it!

The multiple POV we get here has gotten a bit too gimmicky too. Cohn and Levithan really went into overdrive. You’re supposed to get character insight from different angles, but what you get is sometimes random people’s rants: totally pointless in the bigger scheme of this so-called different edgy love story.

However, however… there is  some redeeming quality to this novel… Levithan and Cohn probably couldn’t write a dull-sounding sentence if they tried, not even if they bet their entire Dawson’s Creek DVD collection on it. I mean, the spunk just jumps off the language once again (and yes, there are too many fucks and dicks up in the air, but hey it’s all in the name of love, right?) and I swear they make these NY hipsters sound way too witty for their own good.

I do love a good verbal rambling. If they wrote a book where Gilmore Girls meets BTVS meets Deadwood, that would be like this cat’s favorite chicklit book, but there’s also a thing called too snarky for your own good. In Nick & Norah it all sounded very fresh.  Here the language leaves a bit of an aftertaste of badly developed character.  I do still love David Levithan & Rachel Cohn, but please please, don’t be a one trick, errr…pony-duo?



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