Geeks in love: "The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You" by Lily Anderson

Release date: May 17, 2016

Pages: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor 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 was all about this fangirl and fanboy rivals turned lovers story even before I found out it's a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Lily Anderson won my heart with this adorable love story full of clever, reference-heavy banter that aligns flawlessly with the inspiration material but in a thoroughly modern way.

Trixie Watson was basically written for me and it was impossible to not adore her. She's obsessed with Doctor Who and Marvel comics and binge-watches Battlestar Galactica. She's ambitious to a fault. She's got realistic insecurities but a strong sense of herself and who she wants to be. Every superheroine needs a nemesis, and hers is Ben West, whom she has hated ever since a childhood incident that left her with a broken arm. Their friend circles overlap as their besties pair up, intensifying tensions as they battle for academic dominance at their hypercompetitive high school — not to mention the last issue of the latest Buffy at their local comic book shop.

It's abundantly obvious that these two have too much in common to not be friends, and that they just might be meant to be together. Anderson did a great job of making the transition from hated foes to possible love interests believable, especially in the context of fluctuating teenage hormones. Everyone remembers staying up past their bedtime texting a crush, wondering if they were feeling the same way. This captured that youthful mood of possibility beautifully.

The updates to Shakespeare were genius. I've been into Shakespeare modernization ever since 10 Things I Hate About You. Masquerade balls become walks through haunted houses. A wedding is replaced with an eventful winter dance. And a sexual infidelity scandal becomes a high-tech grade-fixing conspiracy.

The resolution of the mystery was the weakest part of the book for me. I can't get into it without spoilers, but it felt pretty flimsy considering how strong the threads leading up to it were.

What worked best, of course, was the incredible chemistry between Trixie and Ben. They were just such an enjoyable pairing whether they were dueling or wooing.

Whether you love a good YA contemporary romance devoid of insta-love, are a Shakespeare buff or are a passionate member of a fandom, this book has something for you.