Today I’m going to be reviewing Again, But Better by Christine Riccio.
Here’s the synopsis:
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.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.
Prethoughts to reading this:
I am SO excited. I feel like I’m going to end up inserting myself into this book and loving it a bit too much, I did the same thing with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I studied abroad in London and I miss it so much and I already feel like I relate to Shane and her college “inexperience”.
I just read Christine’s note at the beginning and my heart swelled. If this story is what she says it is it’s going to be so great. Reading about someone who hasn’t “done it all” by 20 is going to be revolutionary for EVERYONE who has ever felt less than for not doing what it seems like everyone else is doing.
I got an autographed copy and I honestly still feel so hesitant about annotating books that are hardcovers or that are signed. It gives me so much anxiety even though it’s my own book that I spent my money on and I don’t loan books to people anymore so honestly, why should I care?
I’m also really nervous because I can’t help but wonder if this is going to be a really bad youtuber book but maybe this will change my mind from those thoughts. It’s just really frustrating to see things get so hyped up and then getting disappointed…
Okay… Today is March 8, 2019 and I am beginning Again, But Better… Let’s do this!
Immediate thoughts after finishing this the same day I began reading it:
I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. I want to both love it and hate it at the same time. The story was just what I needed to read right now but at the same time there were so many things that made me either uncomfortable or just feel not happy with the general story.
After some long thoughts about this I’m rating the book 3/5 stars. Leaning somewhat towards a 3.5/5 stars but I’m rounding down because I just don’t know how I feel. There were some parts of this book that bothered me but I’ll touch on those in the spoilery section.
I loved how this read like a movie, it felt so real to me, I can definitely see Christine’s film background in this. Another thing I really liked was the banter between characters. I found myself chuckling quite a bit at the things they said to each other.
Now, would I have bought this book and read it had I not been following Christine? Yes, 100%. The book itself had a plot that interested me greatly. It was a story that sounded like I could relate to it and in the end it was. It showed a lot about learning about yourself and learning how to be your own person. It showed hard lessons to learn and how important second chances can be. Would I recommend this book? Yes. I think if you’re looking for a quick contemporary read then definitely check this out. This wasn’t the story of my dreams but even going into it with very low expectations that I would like it I was pleasantly surprise.
And lastly, I got one of the first copies that was printed so the end of her note says 2018 instead of Christine and I will be giggling about that for years to come.
Next I’ll be moving into a more in depth review with spoilers included…
SPOILERS AHEAD: STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK AND DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED
First and foremost, I’m going to talk about the one thing in this book that made me more mad than just about anything I’ve ever read before and that’s Shane’s family. Her father absolutely disgusted me and I think that there is nothing redeemable about his character.
And the fact that they were all buddy buddy in the end and they gave speech at her book signing? OH HELL NO. Like I can understand forgiving someone for something, everyone should try to do it so that your own anger doesn’t eat you alive but the fact that her parents spent all of Shane’s adolescence pushing her to do things that she didn’t want to do outraged me. And her father’s hissy fit after finding out that she had lied? I understand anger but calling her “little shit” and a “fucking con artist” left such a vile taste in my mouth that I knew I would never like her parents again no matter what else happened in the book. They DISOWNED her over the fact that she lied about this study abroad program… Hell if I was Shane I would’ve lied too! There is no way in hell I would’ve ever been open with my parents about what I was doing if they refused to support what I wanted to do. I’m just honestly astonished that this abuse was just played off as a little bit of anger and that the family was perfectly fine by the end of the story. Yes, of course Shane should have consequences for lying but she is a damn ADULT and should be able to make her own decisions about she wants to do with her own life. Ugh, okay, I need to try and calm myself down again… But honestly this was straight up abusive behavior and I am disgusted.
On a more positive note, I really appreciated how Shane redid her time in London. The fact that she didn’t let her relationship consume her was commendable. I would have loved to see the relationship be strong and independent form the beginning but I can understand why Shane needed to have her time alone in order to really learn how to be a strong person on her own. That being said I loved the ending, I cried over how excited I was that the two ended up together and formed a partnership instead of a toxic codependent relationship. I would love to see more of their dynamic over the gap years between 2011 and 2017 and really see how they built each other up in order to both become successful. I absolutely loved that they both followed their dreams and were able to become successful, I think that’s a great message. I think too many young people get caught up in the idea of what other people want for their futures and just give up on their own dreams in order to just make money or follow someone else’s dream for them.
Also Christine, if for whatever reason you’re reading this, thank you for including the deleted scenes at the end of the book. They both had me on the floor laughing!! That breakup note to Melvin was hilarious and the wrecking ball scenes were priceless. If this book were ever to become a movie I would love to see those as scenes that play during the credits. Absolutely great.
One thing that I really wish would’ve been fleshed out more during the book would’ve been talking more about London. This might just be selfish of me because I want to reminisce more about my own time in London but you know, whatever. And actually one of my first notes I wrote in this book was a tiny little heart next to Tesco when they went there for the first time. Oh gosh I miss London. I also really wish that the storyline with Leo would’ve been more developed too! I want to know why the family was falling apart at the beginning and I want to learn more about Leo!!
Okay, so overall I think that the romance in this book was interesting. I wish that I didn’t feel like there was so much emotional cheating going on but at the same time, Pilot 100% should’ve broken up with Amy right away the first time around and NEVER should’ve let things go so far with Shane. However, they were both immature and it does sound like Amy kind of pushed Pilot to stay in a relationship. I’m so uncomfortable with how close it felt like cheating to me. Pilot flirted with Amy far too much when he was very much with Amy that I couldn’t let myself like the flirtatious banter that they had at first. AND the whole second chance break-up was horrendous!! Boy, if you like this girl you need to get it together and ACTUALLY MAKE SURE YOU’RE BROKEN UP WITH THE GIRL YOU WERE PREVIOUSLY DATING.
I could 100% see Christine everywhere in this (especially with the blog name) and it made me a little uncomfortable. For a really long time all I could think was, is this just her way of reliving a fairytale ending from her own study abroad experience? And it was pretty hard to get past this. I think that a lot of people who haven’t been following Christine for years won’t find any issues with this but it was a small pet peeve of mine that I just couldn’t push past.
Okay, so now that I have rambled on for a mile and a half I’ll end with this. This book seems like it could be a great jumping point for more people to write books about characters who are in college. I want to see so many more books with characters that have different backgrounds and life experiences and I hope that this influences that. Too many books are about high schoolers who can seemingly do everything… Or about high schoolers who are inexperienced. WE NEED MORE NEW ADULT BOOKS THAT AREN’T STRAIGHT UP SMUT.
So again, 3/5 stars to Again, But Better by Christine Riccio. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on it if you’ve picked it up or plan to pick it up!