ARC Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson10:00
Author: Lily Anderson
Published May 17th 2016 by St. Martin's Griffin
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.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.
I first read this book way back in January, after I finished my exams, and devoured the whole thing in less than a day. Afterwards, life seemed to get in the way, and I kept putting off writing my review that I realised I needed to reread the book in order to remember what happened. After rereading only the first few chapters, everything came back to me, and I remembered just why I loved the book in the first place.
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The main characters are all students at Messina Academy for the Gifted, also known as the Mess, and spend the majority of the day in classes most college students couldn't cope with. As their senior year begins, they face the dreaded class lists, published every week, showing who has the best results, and who doesn't. Trixie and Ben have been ranked third and fourth for most of their school career, and keep jumping each other from time to time. Trixie can't stand Ben, and would love nothing more than to be him, once and for all. For Ben, it's a whole other matter; yes, he would like to be third, but his feelings towards Trixie are completely different. They have to spend time together once their best friends become a couple, and it's tense, to say the least.
However, that's the least of their problems. Soon, the class list is tampered with, and when Trixie's best friend is accused of doing so, she is expelled. Ben and Trixie have to join forces to discover who the real culprit is, and even though they're now in the lead, statistically, they put their friendships above everything else.
First things first, I don't like Shakespeare, and have never read, seen, heard, etc., this play. I know, an English person not liking Shakespeare :0 No matter how much I like books, I'm not exactly a fan of classics, except Jane Austen. However, adaptations of Shakespeare - such as 10 Things I Hate About You, She's the Man, etc. - are right up my street, as was this book. I adored the book so much, I couldn't put it down, and when I discovered it was Anderson's debut, I was immensely impressed in her writing style.
The main characters, Trixie and Ben, were fantastic, in their own ways. They were geeky, but still extremely approachable. They spend a lot of time at the local comic book store, and the book was full of fandom references, enough to appeal to just about everyone. Their relationship was difficult since they'd been in first grade, but since then, Ben had been trying to make up for it, but Trixie stood her ground. Over the course of the book, we see Ben time and time again attempt to become friends, and more, with Trixie, and she's completely oblivious. Everyone else knows what's happening, but she can't see anything past her hatred. I adored their relationship. We really see them get over their past, and their feelings develop, even as their dealing with the real problem of friends being expelled, and friendships breaking up.
If you haven't been able to tell I loved this book, well, I did! It's the perfect kind of contemporary retelling for me, and I just wish I'd had it in my life earlier. The writing style was so compelling that I was hooked from page 1, and my only problem was that it ended - I could have read so much more! I'd recommend you pick this up, even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare, because you don't need to be for this retelling. A perfect YA Debut!