Aurora’s saving her first kiss for a mythical, modern-day Prince Charming, until a school production of Shakespeare requires that she kiss a longtime nemesis.
Spoiler alert: Aurora ends up in love with her handsome, kindhearted, longtime admirer and playful rival, Hayden. Though this is a foregone conclusion, considering the novel is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, the silly antics required to unite these two white, beautiful foes generate decent romantic tension. But while the high school theater production does deliver laughs as the student cast attempts to co-opt the direction of the play from their exasperated theater teacher, Aurora and Hayden’s interactions are stilted by comparison. Her smug attitude about the general cluelessness of men (a view shared by her equally beautiful and seemingly privileged group of girlfriends, almost all white) often makes her seem more shallow than the males she mocks for their lack of chivalry. Aurora and her girlfriends design elaborate schemes to both garner and manipulate male attention, and they judge men almost entirely on their appearances. They repeatedly note their love interests’ hotness and worry that Aurora’s secret admirer may be, gasp, a nerd. And Aurora’s ongoing rejection of Hayden’s admiration makes it difficult to fathom how he understands that beneath her prickly exterior waits a lonely girl hoping for love.
Neither gender really wins in this modern Much Ado About Nothing. (Romance. 12-16)