Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

"This was so much bigger than the monkey bars. This was the Rebels versus the Empire. This was the Doctor versus the Daleks. This was Ripley versus the Xenomorphs.
This was a real, true, full-scale war..."

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You ended up surprising me. At first, it sort of annoyed me. It's based on Much Ado About Nothing, and the Beatrice (Here, she goes by Trixie) and Benedick (Ben) characters are savage. Every interaction explodes into a fight. In my opinion, it's mostly Trixie's fault. She takes every little comment as an insult and shoots back twice as hard, often going for very personal stuff (His mom leaving his family, his friends turning on him). I'm not saying that Ben is innocent in all this. He keeps up his side of the fight. They just can't seem to get along, they are too different...or too similar.

The kids in the story attend a school for geniuses called Messina Prep, or the Mess. It's highly competitive to the point that the school posts rankings every week. Ben's best friend Cornell is number one, Trixie's best friend Harper is two, Ben is three, and Trixie is four. She vows to change that by the end of the year so that she graduates in third place and can rub her victory in Ben's face. Their rivalry started when he pushed her off the monkey bars and broke her arm, and Trixie will not rest until she wins. 

Things start to change when Harper and Cornell finally get together. They have been dancing around each other for a long time, and he finally asked her to the Harvest Festival. The only thing in the way of their adorable, nerdy love is Ben and Trixie's inability to get along.

At the festival, Harper and Cornell are having such a good time that they end up forgetting about Trixie. She ends up alone in the surprisingly scary haunted house and has a panic attack. Thankfully, a kindly axe-wielding clown escorts her to safety. She actually became attached to her rescuer, to the point that she considers seeking him out as a possible romantic prospect. Imagine her surprise when she finds out that the clown was Ben, and she had been insulting him to his masked face. After that, Ben and Trixie no longer fight. He just ignores her, and vice versa.

In a moment of Shakesperian hijinks, Trixie overhears Harper and their other friend Meg discussing her. They lament how tragic it is that some poor young man is in love with her. There is no way she would ever return the sentiments, she would likely end up mocking him. It could be tragic...he might even kill himself! Who is this poor, lovelorn young man? None other than Ben!

Before, Ben couldn't say a word to Trixie without getting his head ripped off, but now she is civil, even nice. She lets him share her Spiderman umbrella when they walk to class in the rain. She lends him her Buffy comics and he introduces her to Saga. When they were arguing, they got on my nerves, but they made me squee a bit with geek cuteness.

Trixie still isn't ready to tell her friends, or, God forbid, her parents, about her new friendship. Ben buys her a ticket to the Winter Ball and it seems like they might actually be a couple. She buys a new dress, geeks it up, then all hell breaks loose.

Throughout the year, students have been put on academic probation for cheating. It was a couple of athletes and a D&D kid, nobody that they knew well. The Mess is a demanding school, so it's not too surprising. When Jack, twin brother of the class president, is suspended, everyone starts to pay attention. At the dance, Trixie finds out that everything was pinned on Harper. It looks like she framed her classmates for cheating. She is expelled, and Cornell doesn't stand up for her. (This is definitely a better scenario than the one from the play, which involved the Harper character being framed for having sex with a guy who wasn't her fiance. An update was definitely required.) It lands on Trixie to solve the mystery and clear Harper's good name.

Like I said, the book grated me at first, like an episode of  The Big Bang Theory. It's all smart people, Doctor Who, comic books, banter, blah. After I really got into the book, and Trixie and Ben chilled a little, I really loved the story. There were full on smiles and giggles on my end and, of course, happy tears. It's really cute and funny and led to me binge-reading the Saga graphic novels. I highly recommend it!

I received my copy of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. It's available for purchase now.