Review: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published August 28, 2007 (Orig. published 2006)

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When the girl who just dumped him walks into the club where Nick’s band is playing a show, he resorts to the extreme and asks the random girl standing next to him if she’ll be his girlfriend for five minutes.

Though Nick’s request at first infuriates Norah (what kind of cheap trick does he take her for?), the approach of her not-quite-friend prompts her to take some desperate measures of her own. Like yanking almost-stranger-Nick into an electrifying kiss.

The agreed on five minutes stretches into a whole night of adventure, misunderstanding, reflection and romance. Cohn and Levithan weave a tale full of teen angst, hormones, confusion and of course music. It’s a wild ride from start to finish.

I sometimes feel like the odd one out on this book. So many people rave about it, and I felt like I just didn’t get it. I didn’t find either Nick or Norah particularly likeable. Some of the plot elements felt a little too convenient to me. When Norah ends up in the bathroom with another girl who kisses her, to show her how to kiss a boy, I remember thinking, this is what some men wish happened in women’s bathrooms. It felt more like a fantasy rather than a believable element to the plot.

Also, the language was pretty over the top. I mean, I get that the scene in which the F-bomb gets grossly overused was supposed to be ridiculous, but it was just way too much for me.

If you’re really into boundary-pushing books about music and unrealistic relationships, this might be exactly the book for you.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used frequently. On one page the f-bomb drops no less than 25 times.

Sexual Content
Several scenes of same sex kissing. Twice Nick and Norah retreat to some measure of privacy to have sex. Those scenes are pretty heavy and specific. Several times sex and sexual topics are discussed in conversation. The couple also goes to see a burlesque show that features “nuns.”

Nick and Norah do not actually have sex in the story… both times they’re interrupted for different reasons, but it’s by a hair’s breadth.

Spiritual Content
Norah comments somewhat sarcastically in prayer a couple of times.

Violent Content

Drug Content
The club where the band plays serves alcohol and some underage drinking occurs. (Nick and Norah drink virgin drinks at the burlesque club.)


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

7 Responses to Review: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

  1. Sorry Kasey but I find it hard to grasp how this book could be shelved under YA.

    The F-bomb by itself, much less the gratuitous sex in graphic detail, would give it an R-rating in a movie theater.

    YA readers go all the way down to 13. (and younger, my 11yo likes the YA genre.)

    I agree that it might be good for you to leave a Christian Worldview opinion, such as ‘If you are concerned about your kids reading this content I’d give this a pass…’

    Or, A Christian parent shouldn’t find much objectionable in this read.

    (I realize statements like that might open you up for flames if your opinion differs from the average Christian Worldview.)

    • kaseyheinly says:

      Yeah… I’m not sure I agree with opening YA to the kinds of graphic content and language that are currently accepted in the genre. I understand the reasoning – that some kids use these words and are familiar with these events and struggles – but I think too little emphasis is placed on the fact that it’s precisely that – SOME. Others do not make these same choices. I am definitely rethinking how I approach the blog and hoping to start up again in January with a bit of a different spin on it. 🙂

  2. Harlequin's Princess says:

    Okay, I’m sorry for my comment spamming, just forget about it, I just read through the explanation page of your blog and that explained a lot to me. I just was confused because your blog title said “review” and the entry really didn’t feel like a review to me but now I see that your blog seems to follow another purpose anyway.

    • kaseyheinly says:

      No no – you made some really good points. You’re absolutely right, this blog serves a little bit of a different purpose than a traditional book review site. However – you’re also right in that I should include a personal response to the stories I’ve reviewed here. Sometimes this is a challenge to me, because I will enjoy the characters and stories, but feel awkward about recommending them (particularly to young teens) because of the content. But I agree with you and will try to include more of my own personal reactions to the novels as part of the review. Thanks for your input!

  3. Harlequin's Princess says:

    Sorry, I just noticed the subline in your header (Book reviews from a Christian World-view), guess that answers my question about you dis/liking the book 😉

    • kaseyheinly says:

      (you know, actually there were things I liked about the book – namely the characters and I thought the band stuff was awesome! – but I wasn’t real keen on the up and down, up and down, UP AND DOWN of the plot. The sheer volume of language quite honestly turned me off, yes. And I didn’t find the idea that just about every single one of the characters in the story had some homosexual experiences- it just seemed a little unbelievable beyond a certain point- like when the girls started going at it in the bathroom. Eee… just a little overkill to me.)

  4. Harlequin's Princess says:

    What kind of review was that? All you did was stating how many swear words and how much sexual content is mentioned o.O
    I personally loved this book but in your review it’s really hard for me to see whether you’d recommend this book or simply hated it.