I had a lot of fun reading this book. It was sweet, but not saccharine. It had subtle commentary about our world, but wasn't too heavy.
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.
Wow, so many not so great reviews of this book! I have to say that I loved it! It was just the change in pace that I needed - something light and fun but with real meaning behind it. I am not a bit romance, YA reader but this one grabbed my attention and kept it all the way til the end. I was not expecting the twist and I am not going to spoil that for anybody - but it was fun!
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.
I used to be a huge fan of Booktube, but recently that obsession has started to dwindle. It’s a mixture of me not connecting with the books the community has become obsessed with and my lack of interest in watching people haul books. That’s my personal opinion, so if you’re offended, that’s your problem, not mine. Anyway, Christine was one of the first Booktubers I watched (which is the case for most people) and, while I don’t watch her anymore, it’s admirable that she’s been able to publish her own book. I started this book with an open mind and judged it as a published novel and not something released by a popular Booktuber.
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.