TITLE: Again, but Better
AUTHOR: Christine Riccio
GENRE/ AGE RANGE: Contemporary, YA/NA
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Emotional cheating, harsh parents
RATING: 2.75 ⭐
PUBLICATION DATE: May 7th, 2019
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
I finished this book way back in May and like I sad in my mini Goodreads review, I thought this was going to get a lot of bad press. Though it has a 3.78 overall rating on Goodreads, which is quite good, especially for a debut, I think Again, But Better has had a pretty bad time of it!
So, because this has gotten some pretty harsh reception from the majority of the bookish community I just want to add this here. Please remember that this was the author’s debut novel and that the reading experience is different for everyone, so whether you love it or loathe it – please be mindful of other readers’ opinions.
↣ The setting is amazing! I loved reading about Shane and the rest of the characters experiencing Europe for the first time and I was so jealous!
↣ I learnt so many cool differences between Europe and the US, this was especially interesting for me, as an Australian as we have a big mix of both cultures and practices from those countries! For example, the main character, Shane went grocery shopping early in the novel and was shocked that pasta comes in a bag??? Because apparently it doesn’t in the US??? This is slightly hilarious to me because it’s more common to buy pasta in a bag in Australia unless you want the much more expensive options.
↣ There’s also some fantastic anxiety rep which I related to a lot! Shane gets nervous in most situations and having those thoughts written into scenes just made the book such a more relatable and honest experience for me! I wasn’t a big fan of Shane in general, so having this rep honestly, saved her for me I think, it gave me something to actually be able to relate to her.
↣ This book was also super easy to read! I listened to it on audiobook because there weren’t’ any copies available on my library service! I managed to get through the first 10 chapters in just a couple of bus trips (2) in one day and then binged the rest of it roughly one day.
Before I go into my main issues with the book itself I just want to lay it all out on the table and say that this book made me uncomfortable.
I don’t know how else to explain it, other than, this book involves cheating in one way or another and the main character, Shane also has a quite an intense/full on personality that I know irl would annoy me. And there were a bunch of other little things – basically when you put everything together and you get to the point, Shane, the main character, is too similar to Christine (author) and so that made me uncomfortable because it made me feel like I was judging her and that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Does that make sense? Basically, I had a lot of trouble separating Shane and Christine so reading about the emotional cheating and having that romance in general, being the main plot point of the novel made me super uncomfortable.
↣ The characterisation was awful.
↣ Shane made me kind of uncomfortable bc it felt like I was reading and being critical of Christine’s life, wasn’t sure where their storylines were the same/different but I think this is only a “problem” because she has Christine has a YouTube channel, otherwise I would never be able to make any kind of comparison like I have.
↣ Again, But Better feels VERY 2012. So, if you’re into that you would most liekly love this but, that kind of everything I despise in YA, so it gave me some pretty harsh whiplash and I wasn’t a big fan of that. Especially, because there was a whole lot of info dumping to let the reader know that this supposed to be an early YA novel. For example, Christine would mention VERY specific dates and/or events that happened way back when and instead of making me feel attached to Shane because I found it relatable it just took me out of the story completely which was a total bummer because I really wanted to be able to love how nerdy Shane was.
↣ There’s emotional cheating and I was NOT A FAN. SOrry y’all, I know some people really loved them together but it wasn’t cute. Like, at all. (Just to clarify, Shane doesn’t act on it, and neither does Pilot – but the romance is the entire plot of the book so go into this book being aware that cheating is a possibility and Shane was totally okay with getting with Pilot, even while knowing he had a girlfriend back home.)
I had a bit of a hard time reading this one, especially in the middle but overall, this isn’t a terrible book. I won’t ever read it again and I won’t praise it like it’s the best thing in the world, but there are definitely worse books out there, so if this sounds like something you’d like, why not give it a try? I especially loved all the travelling the characters did, so for me, that was one of the best things that this book did for me.
Also, I swear I’m almost done but, I wanted to add this in here. I don’t know what age group this fits into. I think it’s being marketed as YA but has some NA themes and the characters definitely fit into the NA age category. There’s some F bombs, mentions of sex and fades to black and some other heavier themes you don’t usually see in YA. So, I guess you’ll have to make up your own mind on that front, I just wanted to mention it.
Have you read Again, But Better? Do you plan on reading Christine’s future books?