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BOOKS, Reviews

Review: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What is it all about?

Naomi and Ely have been best friends their whole lives. Naomi is in love with Ely, but problem is Ely doesn’t love her back. Ely is gay. The two make a no kiss list; a list of the people they are not allowed to go for as this could damage their friendship. Who would have thought that it would be someone not on the list that would cause the uproar? When Ely ends up kissing Naomi’s boyfriend, Bruce the Second, their friendship is left in tatters. Both teenagers believed they knew everything about each other, that they were soul mates; they were wrong.

My thoughts:

A falling friendship is what nearly every human on the planet has to go through at some point in their life. Past all the junk that is filled in this novel, that is what Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is all about: friendship and love.

After their success with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, it is unsurprising that Cohn and Levithan would decide to co-write another book. There is something harmonious about two authors contributing to a book. I thought they would split the book up with Cohn writing chapters for Naomi and Levithan writing Ely’s chapters. Instead they both shared the characters and would take turns writing from that characters perspective. It is probably one of the only pros of this book that they were able to keep the characters consistent. It shows the characters voice is not that of the author, but the character.

From the title it is expected that Naomi and Ely will take control of the chapters, instead we see the story from many character perspectives.  I think the various narrator technique was approached so you could learn some more about each character in the novel. But it turned into quite a mess. For example, Naomi’s ‘Archangel’ Gabriel compiles a mix tape for her and a whole chapter is dedicated to him going over each song (a clear link to Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). This could have been sweet, but what wreaked it is that you don’t care about him. It’s weird. You don’t like or dislike the guy and this chapter just seems squashed in. There was one sub story that about two-three chapters were based around and I really don’t see what the point of this was. This was the two Robin’s wee love story which in no way influenced any major plot holes. Also, Bruce the First’s sister, Kelly, had her own pointless chapter. She was only even in the book for that one chapter! Despite this I was slightly glad that the book was not only narrated by Naomi and Ely. This was because I didn’t really like Naomi and I would have enjoyed the book less if half of its pages were from her perspective. However, this swapping of perspectives made it quite difficult to figure out what character you were hearing from.

The title was also deceiving by the fact that the ‘No Kiss List’ wasn’t crucial to the story. The only thing that mattered was that Ely kissing Bruce the Second acted as a catalyst to how Naomi couldn’t bear to be in love with Ely when he doesn’t love her in the same way. However, this would have been the case with or without the No Kiss List.

I was quite shocked by the language at first, it was pretty graphic and unnecessary, but you just (have to) get used to it when reading the book.  It was very repetitive when Ely or Naomi would start reflecting on the past and giving little lists of all the times they spend together. They didn’t need to tell these memories all the time.

I don’t know if it is just me, but some of the comments mentioned in the book I didn’t understand. Maybe it was because I wasn’t paying full attention to the story or maybe it’s just references I’ve never heard of before. Some dialogue just seemed out of place, or just put in for show which wouldn’t be said in real life.

My favourite character in the novel was Bruce the Second. He could easily have been made into a baddy character, but he wasn’t and he was so nice. After him I liked Ely, he was just hilarious at some parts. Near the end he starts singing like he is in a musical and it is so funny and so gay that you really can imagine him doing it!

There’s something about endings that I really hate. It’s not that the book is going to end (I was quite relieved to finish this one), but it’s how realisations spring so quickly and that is it: book is over. Ely had his epiphany and in the next chapter Naomi also had her empathy. Sometimes I wish books wouldn’t be structured the way they always are, maybe for once we could see the aftermath of the ‘ending’, or maybe there doesn’t have to be such a knitted up ending at all.

Verdict: 2.5/5 Not a fantastic book, but easy to read.

Read if you liked: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), How They Met and Other Stories (David Levithan) and Be More Chill (Ned Vizzini).

About Danielle Shields

Danielle Shields is an English and Journalism undergrad at Stirling University, Scotland. Her obsession with everything to do with pop culture means that it is her ambition to become an arts and culture journalist. In an ideal world her days would be spent on trips to Cannes, trips to Hays and trips to Glastonbury. Until then she remains content by nesting at her home in Cineworld, losing herself in the library and being utterly squished at the SECC.

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