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when YA meets fandom and geekery.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson
Pub. Date: May 17, 2016
Source: e-ARC + print ARC via publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Fandom

Messina Academy for the Gifted (not-so-lovingly referred to as The Mess by its students) is not for the faint of heart. IQ numbers are considered sacred and highly secretive and class rankings are routinely posted for the entire school to see. For years Trixie and her arch-nemesis Ben West have been battling for the third position (the first and second spots are firmly secured and so far out of their league, thank you very much) and with her senior year drawing to a close, Trixie is more determined than ever to pull ahead of Ben once and for all.

Their rivalry that has been going strong since the infamous First Grade Monkey Bar Incident comes to a screeching halt when Trixie’s BFF and Ben’s best friend begin dating. Suddenly Trixie and Ben are forced into hanging out and tagging along on oh so awkward dates and while their fandoms might give them something to talk about, they certainly aren’t planning on becoming bosom buddies any time soon.

Things go from bad to worse when it’s discovered someone has been hacking into The Mess’s system and altering GPAs. Suddenly Harper is Prime Suspect #1 and her expulsion from the school has Trixie and Ben working hard to prove her innocence. Could they possibly put aside their differences once and for all and work together?

I’m going to come out and say it: I loved this book. A lot. A lot a lot. The fandom references (Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Wars, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, various comic books) were SO much fun and were the initial drawing point for me. Readers who aren’t into the geekier aspects, don’t worry: the shout-outs weren’t heavy-handed and were ‘mainstream’ enough that I think anyone familiar with pop culture could easily get it.

Before I go any further, I want to say something about Ben. For a good part of the story I didn’t want him to be the Love Interest! The very first line in the book mentions the mustache Ben has been growing all summer and Trixie and her friends constantly refer to it being gross, a living being, etc. Now I’m a girl who loves facial hair, but in my mind, Ben’s do became less Tom Selleck and more John Waters and THAT was an image I just couldn’t shake. Sorry, Ben! Eventually, however, I came to my senses and learned to love the guy.

There’s a lot that can be said about The Mess’s absurdly high standards and the stress it puts on these kids. After multiple people are expelled for hacking, fingers finally point to Harper. Trixie knows her friend couldn’t have possibly been the one to go and change grades – Harper’s too good, too perfect for that – and it’s Harper’s expulsion that causes a rift in Trixie and Ben’s newly developed truce. While Trixie is 100% positive Harper is innocent, Ben isn’t entirely convinced. This angle – the elite private school where your grades mean everything – was done so well. Bravo, Ms. Anderson!

The gist of this novel, though, is the romance and my goodness yes (creepy mustache and all.) One of my ultimate guilty pleasures is a romance that starts with a rivalry or hate – is that too strong of a word here? Two people who would never in a million years dream of falling in love with the other…until they do. Trixie and Ben’s romance had me grinning like a fool over how absolutely perfect it was. I ship it, guys.

Although there were definitely some somber, serious moments, over all The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You was a super fun, totally adorkable read that I plowed through in record time. Lily Anderson can write a character, guys. Trixie, Ben, their friends, and even minor characters were fantastic and every single one had a life of their own. No cardboard cutouts here! These are kids I would love to be friends with and I’m actually a little upset they’re not real. I honestly can’t say enough about this one. It was fun, sweet, and nerdy with a good dose of drama and romance and I HIGHLY recommend it! (Also, Lily, we’re now besties and you need to write another book now. No pressure or anything obvs ♥)

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