Hello, everyone! Today, I’m discussing my thoughts on Again, but Better by the queen of BookTube, Christine Riccio. This review will have minor spoilers, so readers beware!
This book was so-so for me. I loved the synopsis, and I was super stoked to see a college-aged YA protagonist because that so rarely happens nowadays. There were some things I liked and some I definitely didn’t, so let’s just hop into those bullet points.
- Protagonist: I thoroughly enjoyed Shane’s voice. It definitely was very reminiscent of Christine’s own personality, but I liked seeing Christine in Shane. It’s her book and her story, so why shouldn’t she make the character slightly autobiographical?
- Locations: I loved London! I loved all of the travel featured in the story. Being someone who’s ultimate travel goal one day is London, I was so excited to see all the little nods to England culture and landmarks.
- Side Characters: I really enjoyed the flatmates! I feel like a couple were underutilized – I’m looking at you, Atticus – but they were entertaining nonetheless.
- Time Travel: This element I was not expecting AT ALL. I knew the story was about second chances, but I did not expect actual time travel to be a part. It was interestingly handled and added a cool vibe to the story.
- Self Discovery: I really appreciated the things that Shane went through in this story. As someone whose parents strongly advocated for a medical field kind of career, I’m so happy to see a character go through the same kind of life struggles. Trying to convince a parent that the arts is where you belong when those jobs are fleeting is quite difficult, so I sympathized with Shane during those moments. I really liked seeing her journey and realizing that she gets to decide how she wants to live her life.
- Girl-on-Girl Hate: There’s quite a lot of this. Pilot, the love interest, was so incredibly indecisive that it was infuriating. Because he didn’t make any concrete decisions, the girl characters ended up as enemies/saying rude things to each other. It should’ve been directed at Pilot, that’s for damn sure.
- Cheating: I usually don’t care much if cheating is thrown into the story if it serves a purpose. That being said, I don’t condone cheating or distrust in any relationship – that’s not what I’m getting at. In this story, there are two different kinds of cheating, both intentional and unintentional. The unintentional parts didn’t bother me, but when the characters specifically chose to ignore the fact they had significant others, that’s when I got aggravated.
- Cheesy-ness: The ending was quite cheesy. Obviously, this is a rom-com, so I should’ve expected the cheese factor to go up quite a lot toward the end of the story. Not only were the characters themselves pretty romantically cheesy, certain dialogues and plot points in general were. I’m all for a happy ending for contemporary books, but I also don’t want to feel like vomiting by the end of it.
- References: Lastly, the references were too much. I like an occasional Harry Potter reference as much as the next person, but there were a few in this fairly short story. Pop culture references overall were used too much to try and convey the time period, which I understand the point behind that – in moderation. Sometimes, they took me out of the story.
All in all, I appreciate the story that Christine put out into the world. For someone’s debut, it’s written well and has an overall good message. I’m glad this kind of book can available to someone who might need that extra push to do what they love. It also doesn’t hurt to see a BookTuber/someone in the book community succeed.
Until next time,