Monday, March 26, 2012

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

Title: Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 28th 2007
Pages: 230
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
NAOMI AND ELY ARE BEST FRIENDS. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but 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 fine - until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution." Can these best friends come back together again?
First sentence:
I lie all the time.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I loved Nick & Norah and Dash & Lily, so I had high hopes for Naomi & Ely. And while the style and plot are similar to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's other collaborations, I just didn't like it as much as those two.

The way that Naomi & Ely is written is something I haven't read before - instead of some words, there are symbols. I don't know how to explain it - there's a picture of a heart when they want to say love, there are smileys, there are pictures of walls, trees, lots of things. Not, like, big pictures, just a little symbol right in the middle of the sentence. On the first five pages or so, I loved that idea, and though it was cute, but that didn't last long. It got annoying really quickly. Luckily, they only used those pictures in Naomi's chapters and not in the whole novel.

The previous Cohn/Levithan-collaborations I've read have been written from alternating perspectives of the two main characters. In this book, however, we don't only get to read from the main characters' points-of-view, but from lots of secondary characters, too - Bruce the First, a guy who has a crush on Naomi; Bruce the Second, Naomi's boyfriend who then starts going out with Ely; girl-Robin and guy-Robin, two friends of Naomi and Ely's; Gabriel the doorman who has a thing for Naomi; Kellie, Bruce the First's sister; and those are just the ones I can think of right now. For me, those are just too many different points-of-view - since there's so many, the authors couldn't give each of them a distinctive voice, it was hard to distinguish whom you were reading about, and it got confusing, especially because there's two Bruces and two Robins. I like the idea of showing so many different kinds of love, but the POVs were just too many for me.

What made it so hard for me to enjoy this novel is that I couldn't connect with the characters. It's partly that there's so many of them, but it's also the characters themselves - I just didn't like most of them. Naomi and Ely are both so full of themselves - I wanted to shake them and tell them to get over themselves and deal with their problems. I liked reading about their shared past, their families, and how close they were growing up - that part is adorable - but I couldn't stand the present Naomi and Ely. 

I liked girl-Robin and Kellie - those are the only somewhat sympathetic characters. The rest of the secondary characters are just as annoying as Naomi and Ely - Gabriel is cocky without really having anything to be cocky about; Bruce the First is plain pathetic; guy-Robin is a total ass; and Bruce the Second is okay for the most part but makes a stupid and injustified decision that made me dislike him, too.

Then there's the swearing. I had this problem with Nick & Norah, and I had it again with Naomi & Ely - there are way, way too many swear words. I don't have a problem with cursing in general, and it's not like I mind if a book uses a curse word every once in a while, but it's just too much in these books. They say 'fuck' on every page, for no apparent reason, so much so that it bothered me while reading, even though I'm not usually sensitive about that kind of thing.

Despite all of that, I actually did like the main story - it was nice to see how Naomi and Ely's relationship evolves over the course of the novel, and I liked seeing them figure out what role they play in the other one's life.

This book was really, really disappointing for me. Too many points-of-view and not very likeable characters made it hard for me to enjoy Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, which is sad, since I really did like the authors' other collaborations. If you haven't read anything by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, I'd recommend starting with Dash & Lily's Book of Dares or Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist instead of this one.

If you've read this book, what did you think?


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