Again, but Betterby Published 07 May 2019
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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 Reviews
OKAY UPDATE; THIS COVER IS FUCKING AMAZING
Christine isn't my favourite Booktuber, but she basically single handedly started Booktube and that's pretty fucking awesome. And she's been working on this for years - even though we all KNOW because of her following she could of got it published ages ago. I totally respect the work & dedication that has obviously gone into this.
Plus I think the title is so catchy and fun
“Shane has been doing college all wrong”
You fool....You absolute buffoon....That's the only way you do college.
ARC received via #arcsfortrade on Twitter!
“If you could go back and do London all over again, knowing everything you know now, would you do it?”
Friends, I wanted to love this so badly. So damn badly. Christine is not only the actual Queen of BookTube, she was one of the first channels I ever watched. She just seems so kind, and genuine, and I always feel like she radiates positive energy, and she was such a massive part of why I wanted to read Shadowhunters in the first place. But this review isn’t going to be about that, nor is it going to be a drag or me spilling the tea; this review is just going to be about why this debut was only okay for me. Even though I very much hope it works for you come May 2019! Also, please keep in mind that I have a very early ARC copy of this book. Many things could be changed upon publication!
This story centers around a girl named Shane, who has had her life completely predictated by her parents’ wants and aspirations for her. Her parents want her to study medicine and to one day become a doctor, while all Shane wants to do is read and write. Yet, she somehow manages to be able to study abroad to the UK, where she will also be able to intern as a writer for a travel magazine and, most importantly, escape her parents’ expectations.
The book is also told in two parts; the first part being set in 2011 where Shane is 20, and the next part set in 2017 where Shane is 26. But the book starts out in 2011 and we soon follow Shane during her oversea travels, and we soon meet all of her flat mates, most of which who have ridiculous names; Babe, Atticus, Sahra, and Pilot Penn. Yeah, you read that last one right. But Shane is making sure that she is going to make the most of these three months of freedom, while trying to make friendships and connections that will last her entire life.
This books just reads so personal. Like, I would even go as far as to say that I would feel comfortable as classifying this as semiautobiographical. But instead of me being interested in the story, it really took me out of it because it felt so much like Christine and, in turn, felt so damn invasive.
Like, you will not be able to read this book and not picture the main character, Shane, as Christine. From studying abroad, to being open about not making many friends in college, to *gasp* Shane’s blog name being French Watermelon, to the constant Lost references, to the endless Cassandra Clare and Shadowhunter references, to Harry Potter galore, while the character of Shane also just has a personality and the same mannerisms as Christine. This just feels so semiautobiographical. I promise, you won’t be able to not see it. And maybe that will completely make the reading experience for you, and I truly hope it does, but it really pulled me out of the story constantly.
Also, Christine constantly is trying to make you remember that the story is set in 2011 for a majority of the time. Which is fine at first, but it becomes so heavy handed and forced that it really made for an unenjoyable reading experience. Angry Birds, to Jamie Foxx’s ”Blame It”, to every popular book of that time period! It was just too much, and it really did a disservice to the story, in my opinion.
But my biggest problem with this book was the grey-area cheating and even eventual cheating (a kiss). This was truly the reason that I could never love this book or ever feel anything for the characters. Plus, the character that is getting cheated on is always villainized to look like a bad girl, when she has every right to feel threatened.
Also, just because this is something that is personal to me, I really didn’t like how Shane’s parents were never said to be abusive when they most certainly were. Like, the verbal abuse alone her father showed in the text, on top of the constant emotional abuse throughout the entire story, it just made me so upset and I really was disappointed when the parents were never viewed as being shitty parents. Especially at the end when they are being portrayed as good parents, just because their child was able to succeed without them. It feels and reads so very bad. Seriously, if your parents only want to love and support you when you are successful then they aren’t that great of parents.
I really loved how this entire story and book shines a light on the constant theme of social anxiety. I’m not saying that Shane makes the wisest of choices throughout these six years but seeing her live with social anxiety was something that really meant a lot to me and something that I really appreciated.
My favorite thing about this book is how it truly is a love letter about how you have to live your life for yourself. I know that Shane learns this the hard way, but I think that this is a concept that more kids need to not only hear but to let the message absorb into their hearts. I know that I learned it way later in life, and I wish so desperately that I could go back and learn that my life is only ever mine and that I deserve happiness so much sooner. And I really hope that because Christine has such a huge audience, that so many teens and young adults will be back to learn this earlier and truly live and lead the lives that they want for themselves.
And this book is a really fast paced read, that will really leave you turning the pages because you’ll be super curious where everything is going. Even though I really didn’t like the romance in this book, I was really invested with all the different paths and connections that Shane was making constantly. And I truly believe that I could have sat down, with a big cup of tea, and read this book from cover to cover in one sitting.
Another thing I liked, that I don’t want to talk too much about because of spoilers, but there is for sure a magical element of this book that I was not expecting at all. And even though I think things could have been handled better (grey area cheating), I really enjoyed how this fantastical element was implemented into the story, and it was a surprise that made me happy.
There is also a very diverse cast. Even though the main characters, Shane and Pilot are white, I feel like most of Shane’s coworkers at the magazine were people of color, and Babe is black and plus sized, Sahra is said to be tan, and Atticus is Asian, gay, and a Gryffindor (which feels like a personal attack in the best way, because… it’s me)! There is also another queer minor character who comes out because Shane takes a second to talk to them, which is meant to be heartwarming but I was side eyeing a bit.
Overall, let’s be real, people are going to one star and five star this just based on who Christine is upon release, which is never okay, but these are truly my feelings, even though I think Christine is a six star human! Even though I didn’t love a lot of elements of this debut novel, I still really appreciated some of the themes and thought it was a fun and quick read!
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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.
Content and trigger warnings for constant grey area cheating, cheating (a kiss), assault (an unwanted kiss), and the use of ableist language like cr*zy.
Buddy read with Madalyn from Novel Ink! ❤️
oh dear. this story made me cringe so much, i now need to make an appointment with a chiropractor to work out the new tenseness in my shoulders.
to keep it brief, this book definitely tries way too hard. im not a fan of the writing - it has a low quality fan fiction vibe to it. im not a fan of the characters - shane is one of the most insufferably immature characters ive ever read. im not a fan of the overly used pop culture references - theres practically one on every page. i actually thought the concept was cute but the execution leaves much to be desired.
there are so many other books that have done this kind of story once, but better.
↠ 2 stars
I knew I was going to love Again But Better well before I read it. The idea of a girl travelling to London to study abroad at her second chance at college to study what she wants, make new friends, and achieve her goals is all I could have wanted to read about as a teenager. I firmly believe that had I read this book at 17, it would be considered one of my favorite books of all time. For this reason, it gave me a unique sense of nostalgia, despite this being a totally new story to me, which had a big influence on why I loved this story so much.
CW: anxiety, cheating
I really liked Shane as a main character. There resemblance to a certain good friend of mine (who *may* have also authored this book) is uncanny, so it would be hard for me not to like her as a protagonist. Shane begins fairly naive, dramatic, and almost goofy, but as the stores spans a long period of time, the character growth is notable and really surprised me in the end. I do wish we had seen more from the side characters as the story strongly focuses on Shane and the love interest Pilot, but they were pleasant additions to the book. I struggled the most with Pilot. Sometimes he was a downright cutie and other times I was so frustrated with him, I thought he was bordering on irredeemable. In the end, I couldn't resist his charm. I had some strong issues with the course of Shane & Pilot's friendship, but it was not detrimental to my view of the story. I just feel a few situations could have been handled with more honesty and courtesy.
I felt the writing of the novel was fair for a debut. It was not spectacular but I feel the pacing and certain storytelling elements were used effectively. My main gripe is that the cadence of Shane's narration just wasn't my cup of tea. I don't consider myself to be the biggest stickler for writing style and can frequently gloss over some issues if the story is fulfilling enough elsewhere, and while that stands true for Again, but Better, my bias being Christine's friend does come into play here. While I may not have been the biggest fan of the sentence structure at times, I'm fully aware that it's Christine's sense of humor and because I think Christine is hilarious, I was able to appreciate it for that reason. There were multiple moments where I said to myself "Ehh I'm not going to chuckle at this" and a few pages later, I could not stop laughing when it was brought up again. I spent a lot of time giggling and smiling while reading, just because I knew it was EXACTLY how Christine would say it. I definitely believe that the writing of this book is not for everyone - it also includes many pop-culture references at the time which a lot of readers dislike, but it was fine to me and even had some shining moments.
A certain fantastical element does come into play halfway through the book, which I thought was cute and fun, though I would be interested to know more of the foundations of it. I did prefer the first half of this book because it was more in line with what I personally wanted from the novel, but there was so much I appreciated in the second half. The character development plus the themes and messages were incredibly uplifting and solidified much of why I liked this book. I do wish the ending was more fleshed out, but again, it's not the biggest deal to me as a reader.
Overall, I had such a great time reading Again, but Better. It fulfilled pretty much all of my expectations and even surprised me in some aspects. This is definitely a book that is made for certain people and not others, but it made my England-obsessed, book-nerd heart fill with joy and I'm not the least bit shocked I enjoyed it so much.
I received a copy of this book from Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.