Again, but Better: A Spoiler-filled discussion

So Again, but Better is the debut novel by Christine Riccio one of the most well-known Booktubers out there and when the news came of her novel coming out…well you just couldn’t really escape it, could you? Normally, I’m not too invested in new releases and hyped up books immediately. Unless of course, I’m already obsessed with the author and would shamelessly go for nearly anything they throw at you. Also note, that I also am skeptical of getting new releases from booktubers, like what if I hate it??

Then again, that’s the risk regardless of who writes the book I guess.

So here goes, and if the title wasn’t enough… I’M GONNA SPOIL SOME S**T FOR YOU. SO IF YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK OR AREN’T DONE…GO DO THAT AND THEN COME BACK.

So here goes everything folks,

Synopsis:

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.

That’s quite some stuff that I want to dissect so grab yourselves some coffee or tea or hot chocolate, y’know the good stuff cus we’re gonna talk now…

Shane is redoing college and traveling abroad to have some agency over her life. That’s the part that sticks to you. Because school can suck your soul and you want to do things and grow as a person and go for things you care about. But you also need to make friends, bond with people. It’s just how life goes. At this point in her life Shane hasn’t had as many experiences as a lot of twenty year olds do. I know it seems overwhelming and like everyone’s been kissed and dated and whatnot, but not everyone has and I think it’s really great that Christine touched on that and made it such a point, because for some people it is a big deal. It’s like this milestone that you want to go through and see what you’ve missed out on. But it’s not the only or biggest hurdle to cross. It’s not even Shane’s.

Shane’s biggest hurdle is finding herself. Feeling comfortable in her own skin. You see this happening quite a lot at the beginning of the book when she says certain things, she’ll trip and be herself and then she apologizes because she’s afraid of everyone’s reaction. When she starts to make friends, she’s FORCING herself to go out there and try to make friends which is really nice because she’s also staying herself.

While there’s some aspects I really enjoyed about this book there’s some that were just badly done and we can just compare and contrast. Be aware of spoilers and rage.

The Bad

  • The writing was cringy a lot of times. I hated reading descriptions of people in this book because it was unnecessarily detailed. “I’m distracted by a guy with longish dark hair and disarming gold-brown eyes who sits two stools away,” OR “I spin to find a curvy girl with dark skin and bright hazel-brown eyes standing in a bold green peacoat at the top of the landing” what’s the point of all of the details and awkward wording? “longish”?I don’t know maybe I’m nit-picking here.
  • Shane, at 26 years old when she goes back in time and things are going well with Pilot, decides to write Melvin an early break-up letter. I thought it was a joke. BUT SHE FUCKING SENT IT TO HIM. WHO THE HELL DOES THAT??? That was so stupid. I’m almost 26 years old, if I get the chance to go back in time to get myself more together NO I will NOT break up with someone who doesn’t even know me yet. Are you fucking stupid????
  • Yes, that second point still bugs me.
  • You introduce Sahra and Atticus (mostly) and they’re literally so irrelevant to the entire story it’s sad. Like where are they?? They had potential but they weren’t used.
  • So much stuff was being TOLD instead of shown. Again with Sahra for a minute…she was the “serious” one okay…show me. Stop telling me she rarely smiles and whatever. Show me. We barely got to SEE the experiences Shane had cus she just TOLD us. Like when they take the all-girls trip…okay? Shane just says they went and did xyz, it’s a summary not a thing that TAKES you there with them.
  • Shane never dared ask Babe in six fucking years why her name was Babe??? And she’s your best friend…? So believable.
  • I like Christine, I really do, but like…she WAS Shane. I pictured Christine the whole time. To the point where I honestly felt like researching if all of this was stuff that happened to Christine in reality.
  • I still think it was stupid as hell of Shane to just quit her internship when her dad flipped. Like you’re still in England, fucking yolo it even if it sucks and you’re hurting. This is college, you suffer and you keep pushing forward. Trust me.
  • The interview for Packed!  Was a freaking joke. NOBODY and I mean NOBODY would get hired after that interview. I was kind of happy thinking she wasn’t going to get the internship or at least not after that first interview because it was so bad. BUT HEAR ME OUT. I was hoping she’d have that initial disappointment and then have like Babe and Sahra be like you can turn this around. Get Babe’s optimism to get her pumped to try again and Sahra being the serious one or whatever to be like “here’s the plan, let’s do a play by play” and then be like okay “here’s what you did wrong” and then the three of them can fix it together and Shane can feign confidence and ask them for another try and THEN get it. Or for Shane to have applied to other places, have more practice and just get something else from trial and error.
  • Also, I had hoped she’d be less piny over Pilot. I so wanted this to be a journey of MORE self-discovery and more internal fixing yourself and finding yourself. But the romance took over? DON’T GET ME WRONG I WILL SHIP ALMOST ANYTHING. But like, I thought this was a more “all about finding myself and make friends” kind of thing. Which kind of happened, but not with such a gut punch of it as I’d like?
  • Was Sahra’s whole purpose to be there for her dad to find out about her lying without having him find out through Babe?
  • Was Atticus there just for the sake of the diverse aspect? Like he’s asian and gay, and again he’s like never there. We get nothing from him. He’s even less there when they go back in time. So like…what’s the point?
  • Atticus had potential. After the blow-up he was the one who offered Shane a shoulder to cry on basically and like that’s it. That was his glory moment.
  • Did I mention the overly-detailed descriptions? Cus they still make me cringe.
  • In six years Shane didn’t meet anyone who made her see what a normal relationship was like? Nobody made her realize that people who actually were in a relationship could lift each other up and DIDN’T have to text each other all day??? NOBODY TOLD HER THAT THIS IS THE HONEYMOON PHASE AND THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY?? Pilot wasn’t forcing her to talk. Just be like “have a good day talk to you when I get off work.” You can just study together, get coffee and have a normal day. He took pictures for her the first time around. He can do it again for blog photos.
  • And when she feels like she’s disappointed her parents because they find out what she’s done… she doesn’t stop to think maybe it’ll be okay and she can still prove herself. She doesn’t think about herself. She gives up hope of doing what she loves.

The good

  • What I feel is great about this book is that you get to experience those feelings. The bittersweetness of feeling alone in college. The thrill and fear of making new friends; how much do you say? How much of yourself to let out at once? It’s a story about self-discovery. Finding yourself, challenging yourself, facing your fears. Growing, growing up, and about the overall college experience.
  • It’s about forging new relationships and learning how to strengthen them.
  • Leo and Shane barely talked because Shane had a warped view of her cousin. Just so that on take two she was able to learn that he was just as sheltered as she was in his own way and coped in a different way.
  • The romance was cute. The teasing and joking around was actually pretty nice.*aside from the y’know, he’s with someone else.*
  • So aside from Pilot and Shane whom I dwell into more in my spoiler-y thoughts, the relationships Shane gains from a do-over really were decent. Because Shane grew the f up she finally managed to realize that not everyone was ass. That everyone has sh*t they’re going through and they don’t all clam up like she does.
  • I admired Atticus. Atticus approached Shane and offered her an ear to listen to when her dad was a little bitch. He made time to BE THERE for Shane when hell broke loose and I admire that.
  • Pilot went ahead and broke up with Amy and those two dated. I was happy. Not because he broke up with Amy because I’m heartless. But because he didn’t have feelings for her and it. Wasn’t. fair. He was just dragging her along while again flirting with Shane. Like why?? What’s the point?? Like just tell her…and make sure SHE ALSO KNOWS.
  • The self-discovery aspect of the story. Shane has to grow and learn how to have stable relationships with other people.
  •  The Pilot x Shane romance was great, until you thought about you know… Amy. Throughout the entire book I was thinking “wow you nerds are so meant for each other” but also, the 2011 section was all “WELL THAT WON’T WORK BECAUSE OF AMY, NERDS” so it was super mixed emotions. Like yeah, you’re cute…butttttt you have a girlfriend.
  • The real “again, but better” wasn’t JUST the travel. It was the literal ‘again’. The magical do-over that helped them both in more than just one way. It wasn’t a do-over so you two can face your feelings towards each other, but a do-over to fix yourselves into who you really would feel confident and comfortable with being. and that’s the part I really did like.

I still feel that there was much to be improved, especially with the actual writing because it honestly was just cringe-worthy in certain parts and it took me out of the story. However, this story did have some really nice romance which did get me rooting for Shane and Pilot…(BUT AMY SO LIKE it’s complicated)

Anyways, let me know if you’ve read this book or if you’d like to. If you did, what do you think about it?

-G

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