Cover Image: Again, but Better

Again, but Better

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Member Reviews

I really liked this book. The setting was imaginative and the characters were memorable. Thank you for the ARC, I will definitely recommend this book and this author to my peers.
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The book felt formulaic and I really didn't gel with the characters or the plot. It sounded much cooler in the blurb than in practice.
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Loved watching her YouTube videos of the writing process for this book. Had high expectations and she definitely didn't disappoint.
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I’ve been seeing this YA book around, but it wasn’t until it popped up on audiobook availability at my public library that I decided to give it a try and WOW! I’m so glad I did!
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Shane is terrified. She’s flying off to London to do study abroad after lying to her parents saying it’s for a premed program when really it’s a creative writing semester. Also she currently has no friends or romantic prospects at age 20. Quickly in London she finds a boy she has a mad crush on, new best friends, an amazing internship at a magazine, and travel opportunities all over Europe...that is until her parents find out about her BIG LIE when they come to visit. Now, six years into the future Shane is living a life spent pleasing everyone but herself, regretting all the things she didn’t end up doing in London. You can never go back and erase those mistakes...or can you?
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This novel is labeled as a romcom and while I 100% agree with that description I also love how it focused on the main character finding herself and being happy on her own. I loved the narrator for the audiobook! Homerun for sure. This is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for me and any young adult readers who pick this up will love it! I’m a fan!
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Again, but Better was a light and fun read as long as you don't take it too seriously. Don't ask questions, don't ask why the characters made the choices they made, just go along for the ride as Shane relives her college travel abroad experience several years after it happened due to unexplained time wimey-ness. I'm a sucker for friends turned lovers, even when the book undermines it a little by giving it few stakes the second time around.
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"It's weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it's not."

I've had this book on my radar for a few years and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. I definitely loved the author's note at the beginning about how this book is for anyone who felt like they hadn't experienced everything as a teenager and was still figuring things out as a college-aged person. This is a demographic of character we don't often get to hear from, and I really appreciated this twist on a coming of age story.

I really liked the first half of this story. I had no idea going in this book featured some magical realism but I could tell quickly that I was going to get some magical realism whether I wanted to or not. The magical realism was well done, in my opinion, but it was not what I wanted in a coming of age story centered around a 20-something. I would have preferred a coming of age story that was more realistic fiction rather than playing with magical realism. The other thing that really irritated me in this book was all of the names: Shane is our female main character, her best friend is named Babe, and she falls in love with a Pilot she nicknames Pies. I am all for unique names, but these names bordered on irritating for me.

While entertaining, I would definitely recommend other stories featuring 20-somethings over this one. Can I think of any at this time? Of course not, but I know I've read books that feature college aged characters that I liked better than this one.

TW: difficult relationship with parents
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After following Christine for years on booktube I'm glad I got an early release of this book, it was so good and I found it super relatable. I can't wait to read more from her.
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I wanted to love this one, but it fell flat for me  I don't know if it was because I am out of the target audience of this novel. Or if it was because the main character got on my nerves for the entire book. Plus I think that the book was over hyped.
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The writing of this book just did not do it for me. The plot sounded good, but the execution was lacking.
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Super cute and light-hearted. I did almost put it down at the beginning due to the inexcusably terrible character names and the fact that Shane is so excruciating awkward that it made me uncomfortable, and she's terribly immature for a 20-tesr old character. It did get better though.
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Christine Riccio, most famously known as polandbananasBOOKS on BookTube has been in the book community since I first discovered it. Her quirky sense of humor and popular book talks have been around for many years and everyone was excited when she announced the release of her debut. It’s funny because I remember watching her first book writing video and it’s crazy to see how far time has gone since Christine first announced she was writing a book.

Going into this book I was hesitant on whether or not I would enjoy a book written by a BookTuber which has been somewhat controversial across the book community. If you were a friend of Christine’s, the reviews were always accused of being too bias. I also found that other reviewers were eager to trash the book if they disliked it. I ended up finding some middle ground with this book. There were some parts of Again, But Better that I enjoyed, and others not so much. Overall, it was fairly enjoyable but not entirely memorable.

Christine’s writing had mixed reactions and some found it to be annoying and unreadable. In fact, some reviewers claimed that the only reason why she got a book deal is because she is a BookTuber. I don’t know if that’s true, but personally, I’ve read worse than her writing. I don’t find it to be the best writing for a contemporary, but it wasn’t horrible. There are many 2011 pop culture references in this book because it takes place in 2011. I understand that the timeframe is an important aspect of the novel, but it was very in-your-face. Take Becky Albertalli’s books for example. She includes pop culture references, but I find it to be effortless and a nice addition to the story, whereas with this book, it felt unnecessary and bogged down the actual story.

Another issue was Christine’s very apparent self-insert. The main character, Shane is very similar to Christine herself and a lot of their interests are practically the same. I didn’t have as big of a problem with this as some, but the self-insert did feel very aggressive. BooksandLala wrote a review talking about how it would have been less noticeable if any other author had an apparent self-insert like Christine, but because we know her so well on BookTube, it was more noticeable. I definitely agree and think it would have been better to establish some differences between the author and her character because it honestly felt like I was reading about Christine’s life.

As for the characters, their names were absolutely ridiculous. I’m pretty sure it was meant for humor, but who the f**k names their child Pilot? Regardless, I found Shane to be both endearing and annoying. For a twenty-year-old, she appeared immature for her age, and her obsession with Pilot bordered on creepy. As for the romance, I found it to be cringey, and I was honestly a little turned off by one of the main conflicts in their relationship. The humor was also, for lack of a better word, cringe-worthy. The 2011 references are also weaved in with the humor and I genuinely didn’t understand what some of the characters were laughing at.

However, I can absolutely see why Shane’s story can be important for readers. For once, there’s finally a young adult book following a confused college student who simultaneously has no idea what to do with her life and knows exactly what she wants to do. Shane begins as a pre-med student which she’s majoring in for her parents. She’s not exactly miserable in her life, but she feels like she’s missing out on her pursuing her true passion in life. I know that so many college-aged or even high school-aged students may be able to relate to her experience. Shane was twenty years old and had the ability to do her college experience again, but better just like anyone else can.

Overall, I definitely understand why this book is reaching a wide audience. Shane is awkward, confused, and relatable for many readers. Her story has a certain charm to it and not many YA books follow a college-aged student. Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others, I do think it’s worth reading if you’re interested. And I’m also interested in what other books Christine has to offer in the future.

Rating: ★★ ½ ☆☆☆(2.5/5)
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DNF@67% (I really did try to finish this, but I just couldn't)

I did not try to hate this, I really didn't. I DNF'ed this the first time I read it, and I think my past self made the right decision. This book was not for me, not even in the slightest. That doesn't mean that this book won't be for anyone else.

The blurb was interesting and exciting to me. I wanted to witness some major character development, I wanted to go on this journey with this character, but instead I got whatever this is. It reminded me of a bad Disney movie. It felt so astoundingly juvenile, both the characters and the writing, and it was just unrealistic.

Now for the magical element, Why? Why was it there? Why did it need to be there? it completely destroyed whatever ounce of the story I could have enjoyed. The first part of the book, not entirely bad. It had promise. But then I reached the second half, and that was all I could handle.
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had never heard of the author before, or even the term "booktuber", so going in, I had no idea what to expect.

This was a lovely story and fun to read!

Shane is not having a good time at college - she is lacking a "life" so to speak and decides to do something about it.

Being pre-med (because that's what her parents want) but actually she is in love with writing, she sets off on a study abroad program. Here she meets several friends, and even begins a relationship with a guy! Unbeknownst to her, her mom and dad visit and things go out of control.

Flash forward to the future and she is living the life of a medical student, but still isn't happy. She goes in search for those in her past and there is a bit of a time travel adventure (not expecting this!).

What will Shane do? Will she choose to change the fate of her future? Or leave it be?

Recommend to anyone who loves to laugh and a good love story.
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I did not end up finishing this book. The premise is an interesting one... Going on a trip to Europe to find one's self and use the trip as a catalyst for some change. But the writing is very poor, not much emotion in any character, and the plot isn't very exciting. Would not recommend.
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An enjoyable debut novel that read as a contemporary, but had a supernatural twist. I think overall readers would enjoy it, especially fans of Christine Riccio.
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This was really great! The writing wasn't a big strength, but I was able to overlook that because the premise was strong, and I read this at exactly the right point in time of my life (in college). This is a book that I'll recommend to high school graduates over and over again, and I'm excited to see what Christine does next.
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Book-tuber Christine Riccio has been reviewing novels on YouTube since 2010, but she has now put the pen to paper and tried her hand at her own book - Again, but Better.  Again, but Better follows Shane Primavera, a shy college student who has always lived her life doing exactly what her parents have wanted her to do.  That is, until she lies to them about the REAL reason she is taking on a study abroad program in London.  No, it's not to earn credits toward her medical degree, but rather to pursue her passion - creative writing.  And oh, if she could make some real friends and finally kiss a boy, that would be ideal too.  But as you can guess, it isn't all smooth sailing for Shane on the other side of the pond.  Can she finally start living the life she has dreamed of, or will she forever bury her hopes and dreams in the name of keeping the peace with her parents?   

There's a lot to like, but also a lot to hate about Christine Riccio's Again, but Better.  Let's start with the good - the plot focuses on an issue that a lot of high school & college students can relate to - pursuing your passion and living your life to the fullest as opposed to doing what others expect of you.  Riccio executes this plot line well - Shane's parents are truly formidable and overbearing - and I completely bought in to this storyline.  

Where Riccio falters is in her characters and the rest of the plot.  Her character development is weak, and I found Shane to be an incredibly annoying and unlikable person.  I hate to say that after later learning that Christine essentially wrote Shane based upon herself, but it is true.  Shane is annoying and insufferable.  

Then there is the plot - for the first half of the book, that's essentially all there is to this book - the plot.  Riccio does a lot of telling instead of showing as Shane finds her feet in her study abroad program.  There are too many mundane descriptions of insignificant acts (passing a camera around and detailing each person in the group's photo op in front of a historical landmark) and loads of pop culture references.  This made for lots of "what's the point" reading and the feeling that Riccio was trying to hard to be interesting and relevant.  

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when the book took on some magical realism, as I wasn't aware of this aspect going into the novel.  I honestly was wondering why this book was so long and how Riccio would fill the pages.  The concept behind the magic was intriguing, but again, the storyline wasn't great.  Shane continues to be self-centered and immature, and her love interest, Pilot, is just as meh.  I didn't consider Shane and Pilot's "again" to be "better," just different.    

In all, I think that this novel's intended audience - young adults - will find it relatable and will enjoy this novel of self-discovery and being true to yourself.  For older readers, it will likely be hit or miss.  

Thank you to NetGalley & St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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I was given an eARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for a review. Thank you.

What drew me to this book at first was something I've never been able to do: study abroad. I liked the idea of Shane going to London to study creative writing and found it even more intriguing when I learned she was hiding the writing part from her parents. I enjoyed the side characters: Babe, Sahra, and even Chad. They were all interesting and unique.

The parts that I enjoyed the most had to be when Shane traveled, not just around London but to other cities: Italy, Paris, etc. Since I don't picture myself ever really traveling to Europe (though I would want to, believe me), it's fun to read about the places I long to go to.

I was surprised by what happened later in the book (no surprises) and would love for a chance to do that, but don't see it happening (no, I'm not spoiling anything).

A little bit of love, a little bit of finding yourself, and a lot of travel are mixed into this book. If you like any of those type of genres, then this is one to pick up (though it does have some light cussing).
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This book just wasn't for me. I thought the MC was annoyingly immature and I had a hard time caring about what happened to her. I ended up DNF because it was so boring. It did not feel like anything much was happening.
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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio is a book that screamed out for me to read. Our main character is quite relatable to anyone who has ever been an overachiever who puts life on hold to reach the prize only to discover you've missed enjoying the journey! This is about a second chance and learning what really matters! It's a great read! I look forward to more by this author.
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