Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
If you are not aware of who Christine Riccio is (besides recently becoming an author), then you clearly are not very well versed in the bookish community. Christine (also known as “Poland Bananas Books“), is one of the most followed people on BookTube. She has gained over 400k subscribers on her YouTube channel, and has several thousands of other followers across other social media platforms. Christine was the first BookTuber I EVER watched, and she is the sole person responsible for exposing me to the bookish online community! When I found out that Christine was writing a book, I was overjoyed and watched her writing videos every time they came out. I had the pleasure of receiving her debut novel “Again, But Better” in advance from Raincoast Books, which I am so incredibly thankful for! I tried my best to separate the writer from the novel, and I think I did a pretty good job doing that.
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.
“Again, But Better” is now one of my all-time favourite contemporaries. It was THAT GOOD. I know some people were skeptical about reading a book written by a BookTuber, especially since others have not been great. However, Christine’s was truly phenomenal.
My favourite thing about this book was Shane, the main character in this novel. I found a lot of similarities between myself and Shane, such as being an only child, shy around new people, always wanting to make my parents proud, and much more. I understood a lot of her feelings in several different situations throughout this story, and I thought she was an amazing main character. The other side characters were great as well! Babe, Pilot, and Atticus were my other favourite characters, and I think they added a lot to the story.
The first quarter of the book made me (literally) smile, the second quarter made me (literally cry), the third quarter shocked me, and the last quarter made me feel so proud of the character Shane had become. This book put me through in emotional roller coaster, to say the least (which was quite strange since I read the book in one day!). I felt so connected to not only the characters, but also the storyline overall.
The story and plot were fantastic. The events that took place over the story were all important to the flow of the plot, and nothing seemed irrelevant. Her writing was also fantastic, which made this book read smoothly and not seem like a debut novel. I really enjoyed the different mixed media sections she included in this story, including text conversations and postcards.
The setting and places they went to in this novel were great, and places that I definitely want to visit as well! The thought of them travelling every weekend throughout their study abroad program was a bit unrealistic, but it was so fun to read about!
Another element of this story that I loved was the subtle connections to Christine throughout this novel. Although I wanted to completely separate the story from the author, Christine was literally all over this book! She frequently mentions books she has loved and read in real life, YouTube and the success you can gain from starting a channel, her love of documenting things on her channel (just wait until you hear the name of Shane’s blog!), and many other references. While not everyone may understand them if you are not familiar with Christine’s channel, you definitely won’t be confused by them.
Overall, I absolutely adored this book and gave it 5/5 stars. Christine, if you are reading this, you did a phenomenal job on your debut novel and you deserve all of the success that comes your way because of this book. I cannot wait to read your other future novels! Thanks again to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of “Again, But Better”!
Good Night Book Owls!