Cover of Nothing Happened by Molly Booth. A masculine white hand and a feminine Black hand, each wearing string bracelets, clasp pinkies

About the Book

Title: Nothing Happened
Published: 2018

Cover Story: Romeo and Juliet
Drinking Buddy: Measure For Measure
Testosterone Level: The Tempest
Talky Talk: The Comedy of Errors
Bonus Factors: Shakespearian Adaptation, Summer Camp
Bromance Status: Love’s Labor Lost

Cover Story: Romeo and Juliet

A closeup of Bee and Ben’s hands, complete with summer camp friendship bracelets. Unimpressive, but at least they didn’t whitewash Bee.

The Deal:

It’s summer time at Camp Dogberry (get it?). As the counselors gather for their week of pre-camp training, there’s the usual gossip, hookups, and crushes. Hana and Claudia are making goo goo eyes across the campfire. Hana’s sister Bee and counselor Ben can barely say a civil word to each other, despite hooking up last summer. Don, the son of a powerful politician, has his eye on Bee, but his half-brother John thwarts him at every move. John also has a thing for Claudia.

In the remote Maine woods, these horny teens are going to spend a summer romancing, drinking, fighting, and occasionally looking after the campers. Ah, what fools these mortals be.

Drinking Buddy: Measure for Measure

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

The plot and characters are modeled after Much Ado About Nothing, but the characters have taken a hit. Swaggering, smart ass Benedick is replaced with awkward and self-conscious Ben. Macho, intelligent, and sensitive Don Pedro is now Don, who’s kind of a jerk. Conniving and underhanded Don John is now whiny John, who couldn’t conspire his way out of a paper bag. I do think the author captured the spirit of Bee, who was just as snide and awesome as the original Beatrice. I also liked that shy Claudio and Hero have become Claudia and Hana, a lesbian couple. Still, we lost good characters like Dogberry and Francis. There have been other adaptations of this play, and better ones.

Testosterone Level: The Tempest

The plot is basically the same as the original play. Ben and Bee’s friends conspire to hook the pair up by implying the other one is madly in love with them. Meanwhile, John, angry at his failure with Claudia and wishing to drive a wedge between the campers, plots to make Claudia look like a slut who’s hooking up with a townie behind Hana’s back. Unfortunately, this is all done rather ham-handedly, with Don coming off as an almost violent jerk and and the conspiracies seeming rather forced. If you’re going to mimic the Bard, prepare to go all in.

Talky Talk: The Comedy of Errors

There were seven point of view characters in this one (the six mentioned above, plus Ben’s little sister, Vanessa). In addition, there were dozens of other counselors, campers, adults, etc. This made for very confusing reading, as I was constantly trying to remember who was who. I think Ben, Beatrice, and Claudia would have been sufficient for POV characters. In addition, the author did very little with some interesting plot points. Bee was adopted from Ethiopia and is racially different from the rest of her family, including her parents, the camp directors. Ben’s family recently escaped a cruel stepfather. John is the product of his father’s affair. And yet, we just kind of dance around these intriguing storylines.Also, the reason that Ben and Bee had a falling out last summer is constantly hinted at, but the big reveal is not all that exciting.

Much Ado About Nothing is, in the end, a comedy, but this book didn’t capture it.

Bonus Factor: Shakespearean Adaptation

Bust of William Shakespeare

It’s obvious the author knows The Bard well, and has peppered the book with little Easter eggs, such as the name of the camp or lines like ‘exit, pursued by a bear.’ This book might be a good way to introduce reluctant readers to Shakespeare, especially if West Side Story isn’t streaming.

Bonus Factor: Summer Camp

cabins in the woods

Despite the counselor drama, this camp does seem like a lot of fun. Located in the Maine wilderness, there’s boating, games, crafts, and all manner of excitement! Sounds like the setting for a horror movie, really.

Bromance Status: Love’s Labor Lost

I liked the idea, but this play has been adapted before, and better.

Literary Matchmaking

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

Lily Anderson’s The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You is a much better adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.

Revenge of the Evil Librarian (Evil Librarian #2)

Revenge of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen is another summer camp romance, but with a supernatural angle.

My Faire Lady

Like Shakespeare’s time period, but with modern conveniences? Read My Faire Lady, by Laura Wettersten.

Also, the 1993 film adaptation with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, and Michael Keaton is worth watching.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor a hand-woven lanyard for this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.