Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
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 was pretty excited when I saw Again, but Better, because I’ve watched Christine Riccio’s YouTube channel on and off for a couple years. I’m not an avid viewer, but it’s always so cool to see booktubers/bloggers become published. I thought Again, but Better was a decent debut novel that was incredibly relatable and quite heartwarming.
In the 2011 section, I feel like all the characters read a lot younger than they were? I mean, I’m admittedly a childish twenty-one year old, and Shane in 2011 reminded me of how I was when I was 15 or 16. I did find Shane very relatable–I mean, yeah, moving out of the country to make more friends? I have done that. This is a sidenote, but I just could not get over the names. I’m not too fond of the name Shane, but okay. Babe? Pilot? Atticus? Pilot???
I don’t feel as if the plot really got rolling until halfway through the book. The first half was so heartwarming and reads a lot like a travel diary – heck, it gave me wanderlust, and I was travelling while reading this book. (Incidentally, it also made it really nice and immersive, because I read the part where Shane visits Edinburgh literally on the flight back from Edinburgh, so I kept going “I was just there!!” like a five-year-old.) But I don’t feel like a lot really happens in regards to character development. I did think it was nice and fun, though – that’s the kind of life I want to live. Honestly, I feel like reading this during my study abroad really meant I could relate a lot more to Shane, because my university experience so far has been a lot like hers.
The time travel aspect was something I didn’t see coming, but I thought it was really interesting – you can see how much Shane has matured and how unhappy she was with her life. I really enjoyed seeing her go through her experience in London again, but better – and it showed that even though Shane may have been twenty-six and more mature, she could still make mistakes. This part really showed how much of a focused, determined person that she was, and how the fallout with her parents changed her. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see the slow character development in the first part but the 2017 bit was great.
There were also a lot of nods to the book community as well – this book is super geeky, which was cute. On the whole, I enjoyed reading Again, but Better, and I’m excited to see more from Christine Riccio.
Thank you to the publisher & Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy!