Again, but Better
Genre: #YA #Contemporary
My Rating: 3.5
Publication: May 7th, 2019
Read: March 9th, 2019
POV: First-person single perspective
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41147279-again-but-better
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Again-but-Better-Christine-Riccio/dp/125029925X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2RKBEUE5G7MP6&keywords=again+but+better&qid=1552335560&s=gateway&sprefix=again+but+be%2Caps%2C139&sr=8-1
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.
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
3.5 Stars! I have a lot of thoughts so get comfortable.
Again, but Better was a book that I was highly anticipating. I have been watching Christine’s videos for years and I always genuinely enjoyed her content. So of course I was going to support her debut novel. That being said my opinion is not biased at all. I have the ability to separate artist from art. But overall I generally enjoyed this book. Contemporary is my least favorite genre so this book was already at a disadvantage but there are certain one’s that I enjoy! I feel like Again, but Better would have received a higher rating if it wasn’t for the writing/ language used and the overall plot. Before I get into that I want to remark that the second half of this book is what saved it for me, it was much more enjoyable and actually had a plot. The first half…eh not so much. Also this book has a “magical” element to it and I really did not expect that so I found that really fun and fresh!
Okay onto the critique’s…
Did I think this book read as a fan-fiction of Christine’s actual life? Yeah I really did. Just knowing so much about Christine from her videos I realized that her and the main character Shane are literally the same person. Unfortunately Christine was not able to separate herself from her character very well and that really took me out of the reading experience. They have all the same interests, quirks, personality traits, appearance, awkwardness, etc… I just really did not enjoy that. Eventually I got used to it but I really should not have to do that. This book was also full of references to her favorite things: Lost, Harry Potter, Taylor Swift, Dan Brown, etc…It became too much eventually and I groaned every time a reference was made.
The writing was not good. I’m sorry Christine, I understand it is your first novel so there is room to grow but it was just really unprofessional. I really hated that she used “like” in sentences. Her prose read very “immature teenage girl.” Fun? No it was annoying. Again I got used to it but I shouldn’t have to. We were also constantly told about things that happened but almost never shown. This book is in serious need of editing. I think Christine should write is again, but better. *buh dum tss* Get it? Not funny? Okay moving on.
Social Anxiety rep! Not great! I have social anxiety so seeing Shane claim she has it…really did not sit well with me. To me it really felt like she was trying to make social anxiety a cute and quirky thing. It’s not. It is an absolutely crippling form of fear that actually ruins people’s lives. Some people can never get over it. Social anxiety can manifest in different ways for everyone who has it but the way it was portrayed in this novel was not correct. Shane does not have social anxiety, she is just socially awkward. If she did have social anxiety she would be constantly thinking and obsessing over all the dumb stuff she said and did and running through a million different scenarios of how it could have gone. Social anxiety isn’t just “I’m awkward and say weird things LOL peace sign!!!” It is a crippling mental illness that actually prevents people from functioning “normally.” A lot of people like to claim they have social anxiety when most really don’t. Just a lesson for the future, don’t claim you have social anxiety unless you have been diagnosed by a professional. I am very passionate about social anxiety representation because, like I mentioned, I have it and it has been a struggle and a battle every day. I care so much about how it is presented to the general public because it is a mental illness that was slowly killing me for years before I decided I needed to seek out help. I don’t like when people turn social anxiety into a “cute” thing because it’s not cute…it is a spiraling rabbit hole that is extremely hard to climb out of. So just to wrap it up, I am not happy with the “social anxiety” scenes in this book.
The plot was pretty much nonexistent. Nothing really happened throughout the book except for stupid teenage melodrama (even though Shane is 20…I think?). A plot and a purpose arrived in the second half of the novel but that is all spoilery so I can’t talk about it but it was very entertaining. The first half was not good though. It took me weeks to get through the first half of the book I never wanted to pick it up.
I hate the character names. Pilot? Babe? Shane? Atticus? Sahra? The fact that all the character’s names were so weird really distracted me. DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE FACT THAT SHANE’S LAST NAME IS PRIMAVERI. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? YOU CHANGED ONE LETTER FROM PRIMAVERA. While I pretty much liked all the characters…well I didn’t dislike them, I wish there was more of Atticus and Sahra.
Last critique is the portrayal of Italian families. Okay listen the portrayal of Shane’s Italian family really isn’t inaccurate, lots of Italian families are like that…mine included. But no one has to see that you know? It made me kind of uncomfortable to see my own family drama reflected in a book. This is a personal preference but still I could have done without the psycho Italian and overbearing family members.
Fans of Stephanie Perkins, specifically Anna & The French Kiss, will really enjoy this book. I think lots of contemporary fans will find it enjoyable. I generally enjoyed it but yeah I found it cringy as hell at times so it is not going to rank very highly for me. But everyone has different tastes and I genuinely know that a lot of people will enjoy this more than I did. I am also a very critical reader so many of the issues I had with this book probably would not bother other people. This is only Christine’s first novel, she has so much room to grow as a writer and I am eager to see that growth.
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