This book has been on the periphery of my YA reading list since I was working at the local library back in 2007. I always meant to check it out or something, but when it came time to actually get books I always forgot about it. Well, I finally picked it up, way after it’s been turned into a movie with Michael Cera and that other girl that doesn’t actually look like Norah. And my opinion is…god, I can’t believe I might be saying this…
The movie is probably better.
I say probably because I haven’t actually seen the movie yet. And yes, it’s silly to judge this kind of thing without having seen both, especially a using that blaspheming statement. But let me provide some reasoning before we get the pitchforks out:
The plot is cinematic friendly. New York at night, driving music, a rushing love story. This book centers on visual and audio events to move the plot forward. Adding this with the fact that I’m not familiar with the scene that this story takes place in, a movie might actually be a more natural vehicle.
This book does little to get me into the fictional dream. I had a hard time relating to the characters, their lifestyle, their emotions…even the amount they use “fuck.” In fact, let’s talk about this for a minute. I’ve been eighteen years old recently, and I never encountered so much “fuck” from any dialogue I’ve ever had with anyone. Even in my brain. I don’t know if this was supposed to establish grit or truth or emotion or what, but I wasn’t feeling it, whatever “it” was. Teenagers are teenagers, and I’m not totally sure these ones are very believable. Fiction doesn’t have to BE real , but it does have to FEEL real. In order to overcome the reader’s sense of this reality, the author has to write a convincing story. A more convincing story than this one was.
I didn’t really think the writing worked well in establishing the scene. A film doesn’t have to work so hard to establish setting well, because a movie can physically show you many things at the same time, in the same screen. This book tried to do the same, but every sentence ends up feeling so overloaded that the flow is jarred. And when you stop reading, you stop believing. I know the authors were trying to convey some universal feelings- love, hurt, stupidity, being in the moment- but it was difficult for me to ground myself. I guess I’m too much steampunk and not enough…this punk?
Beyond that, the book really has a moving plot. Even though the events happen in less than twelve hours, the timing was all right. When the characters realized it was six in the morning, I could believe that.
I also thought the styles of the two authors worked in sync together. They were definitely on the same page, and so switching between points of view is pretty flawless. I guess I just wasn’t on that page with them.