Friday, May 27, 2016

Book review - The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You

Title: The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You
Author: Lily Anderson
Genre: realistic fiction/retelling
Similar books: A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchinson
                     Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
all that I could have hoped

Summary(provided by publisher): Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Dr. Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

My opinion: Never have I read a Shakespeare retelling that so deftly recreates the bard's wit and word play. The back and forth between Ben and Trixie is nothing short of marvelous. Anderson had me thoroughly hooked from the very first sentence. I liked the addition of the cheating scandal as an academic situation rather than a romantic one. A) It makes the eventual romantic reunion easier to accept in modern culture (imagine the outcry if a girl in a book took her boyfriend back after he called her a cheater and publicly shamed her). B) It gives the whole story a little extra depth. Now the danger of a retelling with close adherence to the plot of the source material, is in this book, is predictability. If we know the source plot well we can predict where this book will go. And this book was pretty true to Shakespeare. So I was a little annoyed and befuddled when it became apparent that the John character was not the mastermind. The divergence made more sense in the context of these particular characters, but it was still and adjustment. The best part of the book, to my mind, is the serious level of nerd-love. The characters are dedicated nerds, celebrating all manner of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, and educational fields. Some of them care about sports, pop music, popularity, and fashion, dismissing the notion that such things are for the shallow and "normal" teens. A good choice for most teens, fans of Shakespeare or no.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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