Shane has been doing college all wrong…
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!
… 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.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5/5)
I was cringing with doubt when I first saw this book. YouTubers have a rough history with the publishing world—its always either hit or (usually) miss.
Christine Riccio may have been the first Booktuber I ever watched, but that did nothing to abate my nerves. Even Booktubers, despite their many opinions on others’ writing, are prone to the same mistakes as their digital contemporaries.
I was quite surprised to find that Again But Better is everything that makes YA rom-com so addictive and well-loved. All rolled into one (fairly) neat package.
Riccio even managed to breathe new life into tropes I constantly see overworked (and underpaid) across the genre. It was a delight to stumble upon these moments in situ, so I won’t spoil them for you.
This book is a fun read, peppered with early 2010s pop-culture references. And the distinct notes of Taylor Swift made the story more contextually believable (speaking as a long-time fan).
Riccio’s relatable characters are the stand-out in this story. Even against such star-studded settings as London and Rome.
Shane, the MC, is all of us who feel the pressures of young adult life weighing in, yet struggle to produce the diamonds of success we’re told we need to be fulfilled. And Pilot is all of us who grapple with the temptation to go the ‘safe route’ when faced with tough choices.
It was also refreshing to see so many distinct side characters and adorable friendships. I could easily care about these individually because they each had their own purposeful trajectories. They didn’t just two-dimensionally prop up the protagonist—a huge pet peeve of mine.
This story, these characters, are for the people who want to make more of themselves. Who want to define their own happiness. It’s for the free-spirits who are trapped within themselves; and the lovers who feel lost and alone.
A warning to everyone who picks up this book: it will make you feel inspired.