- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Wednesday Books (7 May 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 125029925X
- ISBN-13: 978-1250299253
- Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 3.2 x 23.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 581 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Again, but Better Hardcover – 7 May 2019
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"This funny, poignant debut by a popular BookTuber is full of life and honest reflection, and it's packed with adventures that will charm readers, whether they've traveled abroad or not. Give this to anyone who enjoys tales of self-discovery and first love." - Booklist
"Half wish fulfilment, half cautionary tale and full of charm." - Kirkus
"Again, But Better is a fantastic debut novel! Entertaining, clever and impossible to put down." - Colleen Hoover, New York Times bestselling author
"A story of finding love and finding yourself. Prepare to be completely charmed." - Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling authors of Autoboyography
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Shane, the protagonist, has a distinctive voice and evident character growth across the course of the book.
Admittedly, I struggled with the mid-point. A magical realism plot twist that didn't quite seem to fit with the rest of the world slowed things down a bit, and there was a lot of character grinning/smirking/snorting that got pretty repetitive throughout.
However, the dialogue, the first and third acts and the shifting settings, really brought it home for me, and I liked both Shane and the romantic lead.
Shane has been doing college - and life for that matter - all wrong. She is studying pre med because that it what her parents want. She is unhappy and has no friends. She decides to go to London for a semester abroad and study writing and journalism - her real love. She sees it as a fresh start, a second chance to be happy. She wants to make friends, find love and write. But can it really be that easy?
This is a fun story about doing what you want to do and being the real you. Life is too short. If you get a second chance at something you need to make the most of every moment.
Thanks to St Martins Press and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
Shane’s college experience so far has been… subpar. Because of her shy demeanour and inability to make friends, she visits home every weekend and spends most of her days with her nose buried in a book. Shane decides to study abroad in London to broaden her horizons and start over. Make friends. Be outgoing. Talk to the people around her. Travel more. It’s like she’s starting over her life.
When Shane gets to London, she gets off to a rocky start, but she makes friends with the people in her flat. Slowly, she gets to know them and comes out of her shell.
Firstly, the writing wasn’t bad. It wasn’t amazing or terrible. It was just alright. If I’m being honest, the writing standard feels like something I’d write, so I was perfectly fine with it. There’s definitely room for improvement, but it didn’t feel like I was reading a fanfiction (like certain other YouTubers cough Zoella cough). However, there were certain aspects of the writing that I found frustrating. Whenever a new character was introduced, they were described in the same method: their hair colour/style, eye colour, and skin tone. Also, there were a significant amount of popular culture references and some hit the mark, but others were plain cringeworthy. Nonetheless, I found the inserts of blog posts and diary entries to be a nice addition to the novel because it allowed us to connect with the main character more.
The plot was promising in the beginning but took a turn for the worse halfway through. If the entire book was the first half, I would’ve rated it about 4 stars. I loved the concept of a girl coming out of her shell and allowing herself to try college “again, but better”. It was such a wonderful and relatable concept, but it, unfortunately, took a strange turn and followed Anna and the French Kiss too closely. I found the last part of the book bizarre and boring, where it took great convincing to continue with the story.
Romance took the forefront in this story, which I wasn’t a fan of. I didn’t like the way they interacted with each other. It felt like an amalgamation of every other couple in Young Adult literature. There were points in the novel where their connection was intense, then they would break up and it would essentially disappear. Towards the end, I wasn’t even convinced that they even liked each other since Pilot fell off the face of the earth and wasn’t mentioned at all. If the romance was subtle and didn’t influence Shane’s story so much, I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more.
Shane was a fun character to follow, even with her many faults. I really connected to her intense shyness at the beginning of the novel and thought I’d get to explore someone similar to me for the remainder. However, she took a turn for the worse when she met Pilot. Shane at the beginning of the novel is shy and awkward. She can’t find the courage within her to engage in conversations with the people around her. Without spoiling anything, she’s a changed individual at the end of the novel. The only time I disliked her development was when she was around Pilot.
On an unrelated note: I hate the other character’s names. Pilot? Babe? Atticus? Does she have some kind of aversion to normal names?
Again, But Better is a novel that promises you it’ll be good at the beginning, but never follows through. The writing is simple and crowded with juvenile popular culture references. The romance is cheesy, with some scenes being difficult to read, and adapted from numerous other couples in Young Adult literature. This book’s saving point is the development of the main character and the admirable quality her journey has. If not for her, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this novel as much.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I used to watch Christine's video back in the day when she first started YouTube, and stopped roughly when she started her "book writing" series. A few days ago, I came across this book and its description on Twitter, not knowing it was hers. After some research, I realise it's her book, feel genuinely happy for her, and buy it because I thought I was going to be a great read (thank you, description).
As soon as I read the first page I knew the purchase was a mistake. The book is about this college girl finding her second chance at living an adventure via an exchange programme to London because she's been doing "college all wrong". Thus, in my head, I expected at least some level of maturity. However, big err. The sentences feel very choppy and the lack of flow amazes me. The more I read, the more disappointed I got. When you first start reading you get a few words and phrases that seem too out of place and artistic. I say out of place because the whole narrative is very child like. Also, a point I want to add: the time jumps in this novel are too abrupt.
Most of the time, authors share a connection with their characters because they do craft them from scratch and develop them accordingly. However, I think Christine shares an ever stronger bond with Shane. Not because it took her three years to bring her to life, but because it is actually her. The things Shane likes are the things Christine likes, and the way she speaks is the way Christine speaks.
It was overall a really cringy and immature novel. Maybe I expected too much and I fully accept that these are my own opinions and the fact that the novel perhaps may have not been my cup of tea. So, if you're about buy the book based on the five start reviews and the amazing book description, do yourself a favour and send yourself a book sample first. See if you like the style of writing, the characters, and then make a decision.
I honestly cannot say much more because most of my thoughts are spoilery. I will say I LOVED the second half so much. I teared up a few times and was smiling at my kindle so much.
I would have given this 5 stars, but because of the beginning and because parts of this seemed a little inconsistent/wrapped up too easily I had to take a star off.
The story is of Shane, a 20 year old college student studying abroad who is trying to find herself. Along the way she bonds with a friend group that includes Pilot, the boy she is falling for.
There was a somewhat unexpected magical element to the story, I don't want to spoil anything so I'll let you read for yourself.
Overall I liked the writing style and the character development. The message of finding yourself and pursuing passions is done well, I think teens and young adults could really get something out of this.
Please don't let reviews hold you back from trying this one. Christine is a well known from Booktube and because we 'know' her its easy to see her in this story. That didn't bother me at all. The subject of cheating and or girl hate had been in some reviews as well. The hate is not there. And while the love interest does have a girlfriend it is not at all scandalous or inappropriate. I actually will not read books with a cheating trope because it's not my thing, and I can say that this book is not a cheaters story.
I think this was a great debut and look forward to reading the authors next book!
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