Again, but Better by Christine Riccio – ⭐⭐
Not recommended because this book promised big things and didn’t deliver. Stay away if you like romance, likable characters, or critical plot points that aren’t so gaping with holes they look like Swiss cheese.
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. She needs a change, so signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to fix all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! She is soon faced with the complications of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. Shane finds that with courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.
The more I thought about this book, the less I liked it. I had a fairly unique experience because I was reading it as an ebook in an app that doesnt show progress in the book, so I had no idea when I was getting close to the end. WELL, for anyone who has also read this book, that becomes fairly critical. It’s also really hard to talk about this without spoilers so I’ll have to be a little vague in some places.
So first issue is that I didn’t particularly like either of our main characters. I enjoyed Babe a lot, and wish we had anything more to Sahra. She felt like a very very flat character, and I’m not sure why she was there. Fairly similar situation with Atticus. With Babe, how would the first question you ask her not be “What’s with the name?” but in a nice and friendly way? Shane doesn’t even both to ask until like ten years into their friendship, despite everyone else having odd names that they discuss together. What?? It’s a small detail that shows the flimsiness of the relationships in the book. Unfortunately, that goes for the main romance that the story pivots around, as well.
There wasn’t much romance, in my opinion. It hinged on their nostalgia and reminiscing to make things happen, and even that was painful to get through because they were both still very stubborn and whiny. Shane was an unimpressive, uninspiring, and unlikable characters the whole way through. Pilot was no better, and their dynamic together had sparks at moments, but much like sparks, the brightness flared out fast.
The ending is deeply unsatisfying to me because there are so many technical questions that are left unaddressed. I tried really hard to let that go and take everything with a large dose of salt, but ultimately the issues that would have occurred were way too big for me to ignore. Their relationships with their friends would be completely different with their basis in different shared experiences. The pre-emptive letter to Melvin makes no sense, and that little detail was another that I couldn’t let go of.
The name of the book is perfectly clever though, I do appreciate that. However, despite the metaphors for starting over and learning from your mistakes, the story itself has some serious issues.
In short, for a romance book the romance was weak, and the unexpected technical aspects of it were too haphazard (and also completely out of left field) for me to enjoy that either. I am once again seriously questioning the Goodreads Choice Awards.
2 thoughts on “Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio”