Hello loves! Today I am here with a review of Again, But Better by Christine Riccio! I’m sure many of you have heard of her, as she runs the biggest Booktube channel to exist! Her debut novel comes out on May 7th, so make sure you go check it out when it comes out!
Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for providing me an ARC!
From the first page of this book, I knew I was going to love it. For me, this book’s rating really came down to how much I connected to Shane, the main character.
First, let’s start off with the writing- It reads so much like Christine that you know it’s her right off the bat. It was a little eery how similar the quirks in the writing are to Christine’s personality in real life. Her voice is so strong and unique, and it really sets her apart.
There were a few points where the descriptions either lacked or felt forced, which tended to pull me out of the story unfortunately.
Christine also uses a variety of allusions to popular tv shows, books, songs, etc. in this book which made me feel super nostalgic. There were, at times, a few too many pop culture references that sort of distracted me from the story, though. A few of them definitely could have been cut out and the book would do just fine, but the majority of them made me smile.
As far as characters, I really loved them. They all felt so different and distinct. The cast was diverse, and they all felt so relatable. The dialogue between them was incredibly real. I truly felt like I was amongst my own group friends when reading this with the use of sarcasm, back and forth joking banter, etc.
Shane is a character I could relate so much to with her clumsiness, socially awkward tendencies, and passion for writing. When I was reading this, I really saw myself for a variety of reasons, and I’ve never felt so understood in a book before. I fell in love with her character, and I wanted to continue to read about her life. She’s a blogger (what a coincidence), her parents have very high expectations for her (could this be more relatable?), and she travels abroad to London (the number one place to visit on my bucket list).
When the book was over, I was genuinely so sad to leave her and the rest of this cast.
Pilot was a little bland at first- your typical YA love interest. There were a few times where I really wanted to slap him/shake him/push him down some stairs, but by the end, I actually started to like him. He was just adorable, okay?
As far as the rest of the characters, I really did enjoy them all. I loved Babe and Atticus and Sahra. Chad I could do without, but his character was done really well, too.
The one part where this book fell really flat for me was Shane’s parents. Her dad is clearly very verbally abusive. He screamed at her in front of her friends, cursing frequently, and her mother barely said anything to her (or him) while this happened. I wish that they were developed a bit more, especially toward the end. I felt like it was a missed opportunity.
There is so much to say about the plot that I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll begin by saying that it was very well developed and had so many elements to it. It began as a very common contemporary novel, which is exactly what I expected. But then things changed completely.
The novel is broken up into two parts- 2011 and 2017.
The first half follows Shane as she goes to London for a semester to travel abroad. The book really tells the story of her finding her true passion but having to deal with the consequences of lying to her parents about it, falling in love, traveling for the first time, and making new friends/experiences. These are all things that I love seeing in a book, but seeing them together? The book was honestly made for me.
It definitely dragged on at a few times, and the story was beginning to get a bit boring.
The second half was the complete opposite of what you would expect, though. I did not see the plot twist coming at all; it completely caught me off guard. I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it. This book was, however, again, but better.
I do want to mention, though, that there is cheating in this book- at first it’s only emotional, but eventually there is one kiss. While this did rub me the wrong way, and at times make me uncomfortable, it did not deter me completely. Proceed with caution on this one!
Again, there was also the toxicity of her parents, which personally made me a bit annoyed. No one stood up to them, Shane never fully handled the situation, and there was no real resolution with them at the end- the book wrapped up a bit too nicely.
Romance, travel, finding yourself, and a hint of magic- this book really has it all! There are obviously some flaws, and the book is not perfect, but it was enjoyable. High school me would absolutely love this book, and it is definitely worth checking out.
And as Christine’s debut novel, I think it lived up to its standards. She is only going to grow as a writer from here, and I can not wait to see what else she puts out into the world! She has so much potential.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars!
Are you planning on picking this one up when it’s out? Let me know in the comments down below! And if you’ve read it, what were your thoughts?