1 out of 5 stars
Any great friendship can be as confusing, treacherous, inspiring and wonderful as any great romance.
First published in January 2007, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a young adult novel written as a collaboration between Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It follows the friendship of titular characters Naomi and Ely, how it’s changed and reached a breaking point as they learn how to be apart.
I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I bought it purely because I watched the film adaptation on Netflix and loved it. In many cases, I have enjoyed the source material more than the film adaptation but this was the exception that proved the rule. This book was desperately bad.
First things first, I need to talk about the characters. I hated every single character in this book. It didn’t help that there was a point of view chapter for practically every single character involved. Naomi gets her say, Ely is there, Bruce the First, Bruce the Second, Gabriel, Robin Boy, Robin Girl… I was expecting the freaking parents to come in and have their say at one point because it felt as though every single character referenced to was going to jump and talk about their view on things. There were too many POVs.
That coupled with the stupid naming scheme really pissed me off. I understand that it’s supposed to be a cute joke that we as the reader are supposed to feel a part of but it got so annoying. The society of Bruce’s. Robin Boy and Robin Girl. It was confusing and lazy, like they couldn’t decide on what to call which character so tried to make a joke out of it. One that, in my opinion, really didn’t work out well.
The title characters are two of the most shallow, self-absorbed characters I have ever had the misfortune to read about. I liked flawed characters, I adore them. It’s refreshing when I find a book where a girl (or a guy, but come on – let’s be real here for a minute and admit there are too many books with female protagonists who are freaking depressing and self-deprecating) knows that she is pretty or is completely average and accepts that as her form of beauty. But Naomi just felt stupid and shallow. I hated her. Whenever she talked about her fantasies about Ely or his homosexuality, I wanted to throttle her. It was pathetic.
But Naomi had nothing on Ely. Ely is now my most hated character, ever. He’s not even a character I can say I love to hate – I actually despise him. There was nothing redeeming about his personality. He is idiotic, shallow, and an absolute tool. I finally got fed up with him during this little sequence:
“Look,” I say, “I was going to go out with you anyway. He can wait. You’re my top priority.”
“Oh, that’s brilliant, Ely. That’s just super. I’m so flattered that you’d put my needs over the needs of my boyfriend.”
Okay, if we’re going to start using kneejerks to knock down the dominoes, allow me to add:
“Well, Naomi, I think it’s safe to say he’s not your boyfriend anymore.”
Naomi smacks her forehead. “Well, gee, how stupid of me to think that someone would let me know.”
Oh, enough already.
I got so infuriated by this character. Naomi is no saint; I’ve already said my thoughts on her. But Ely? That whole scene was god awful. This is his best friend. He has outright stolen his best friend’s boyfriend, doesn’t give a damn, and then tries to make out that it’s her fault.
I could go on and talk about the other characters too, but they are all throw-away characters with throwaway points of view.
The writing was shocking. I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy writing as bad as the stuff published in this novel. It’s put me off reading anything else by these authors – which is a shame because I bought Will Grayson, Will Grayson before I got this and I don’t want another case of ‘John Green is the only redeeming factor’.
I know that these people are all meant to have unique points of view and patterns of speech, but a lot of the time the writing was so freaking terrible I felt like throwing my tablet across the room.
There was one sequence where, like, one character broke up all their speech with, like, a bunch of commas, and like, more speech, and the word like, like, showed up way too often, like the sentence never seemed to end.
And Naomi’s overuse of emoji. I like emoji in context, like texts or chatting online, but her points of view used them in general sentences. I shouldn’t have to go through my phone to find out what symbol is being used to know what she is talking about!
I always thought that nothing could turn out worse than Let It Snow, but this book shot right to number one of my Most Hated Books list. As I said before, I got it on Kindle just because I saw the movie on Netflix and loved it. I genuinely cried at one scene and thought it was really well done. The people who made the film must have worked a bloody miracle though with this book because god damn. The source material was absolutely abysmal.