*ARC courtesy of Netgalley**
Publication Date: May 7th 2019
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.
My Rating ⭐⭐(?)
That’s right, after the past two months of Again, But Better being on my monthly TBR I finally read it and … well …
I was really excited when I learnt Christine had written a book. Although I very rarely watch her videos now, a video she made on a twilight book is what introduced me to the online bookish community and what helped towards me getting so invested in reading.
That being said, this book wasn’t all that good.
In this book we follow Shane, a college student who takes a year to study abroad in hopes of a better college experience. She’s really hoping to come out of her shell and her comfort zone and I loved this concept in the beginning!
Because I don’t want to start on a sour note, my favourite aspect of this was the travelling. Shane and her new friends take every opportunity of being in Europe to jet off near enough every weekend to places like Rome and Paris. I don’t know how realistic this would be but I’m willing to believe these college kids can drop everything for the weekend to travel, if not only because I wish I could live that life.
Now onto my … less favourite aspects of this.
The writing in Again, But Better is, in my opinion, juvenile and the dialogue is at times cringey. Shane and her friends are meant to be a group of college twenty-something year olds living in a different country and it really doesn’t read like that. I get that this is Young Adult but I wish everything had been a little less PG.
Something about the writing I can’t decide if I loved or hated is the references. I made a whole Tumblr post once upon a time about how book nerds in books are only ever interested in the classics and never more modern things and I got that in this book. There were numerous references to Vampire Academy, Lost, The Mortal Instruments, etc, so I was happy to see that but I think again it was the way they were mentioned that made it feel very out of place and almost forced.
Talking about things feeling forced I feel like that sums up the entire plot. Nothing felt organic, it was like plot points were happening for no other reason then they had to. A word I used in my notes of this book was “clunky”.
There is a twist mid way through this book and I feel like the overall story could have benefited if that didn’t exist. As is mentioned in the synopsis above there’s a hint of magic in this novel. Initially I loved this idea but as I was reading I really wish that had been scrapped completely and it had stayed as a contemporary.
I feel getting rid of this magical element really wouldn’t have taken anything away from the story. I actually think the book would read better and the plot would make more sense without it. And it would have been totally plausible for all the “problems” and angst to be resolved without it and I think doing that would give a stronger message to the readers aswell.
The love interest in this book is called Pilot.
I shit you not. It’s not some quirky nickname that he chooses to go by or anything like that. His name is literally Pilot! I found this absolutely hilarious in an ironic kind of way because it’s so ridiculous.
To be honest the only thing Pilot has going for him is his weird as fuck name. He’s a very vital character and yet I feel like I know nothing about him other then he likes music and thought he was the only person on Earth who liked The Beatles.
Shane herself was … interesting. I like that she’s quirky and clumsy but I can honestly see people finding her unlikeable. Maybe this is down to narration, like I said she is twenty years old with the inner voice of a pre-teen. I also see a hell of a lot of Christine in this character which isn’t a bad thing I just think it takes you away from your story because you just imagine her and you compare real life Christine to the book Shane.
I do not ship in the slightest.
I wholeheartedly blame lack of character development for the romance not being engaging or shippable. It’s really hard to root for two character when one of the two have no personality whatsoever!
(Characters and their history/personality/growth is my jam so as you can tell I’m a little butt hurt about the lack of characterization in this novel)
The story has barely begun before Shane is crushing, and crushing hard on boy she met five minutes ago. I thought we left this trope in the past people! Also I could not get on board for the cheating aspect the budding relationship had.
How this could have been better.
In my opinion if just two things had been improved on and changed I can totally see myself giving this a slightly higher rating:
- GIVE PILOT A PERSONALITY!!! Not only would Pilot himself benefit from this but so would the romance. All it would have taken was a couple more chapters in the start for Shane and him to build an actual connection instead of it being so “insta-lovey”.
- Get rid of the magic. It was unnecessary and really didn’t help the plot in anyway. Sure it was a cool surprise but to quote Infinty War “what did it cost?”
Yes I’m finally going to shut up now 🙂
This is a huge review and I didn’t mean to go on for as long as I did but I had a lot of feelings about this. Although I may be slightly disappointed I did have a good time reading this even if it was for all the wrong reasons.
A fair few people on Goodreads were reading this around the same time as me and I very much enjoyed watching them drag this book and understand what they were talking about.
I wish Christine all the best, this is obviously going to sell well so she doesn’t need to worry about that. She’s out there living life as a published author so really she’s already won hasn’t she.
Thanks for reading (if you managed to stick around this long I really appreciate it)