Title: Again, but Better
Author: Christine Roccio
Pub. Date: May 7, 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.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This will also be a spoiler free review!
I feel like I need to put this here, to inform you that this is indeed an honest review. I’ve seen some downright discrediting and not nice reviews simply due to who wrote the book and how the MC comes across. If you didn’t like the book, fine, you’re allowed. If you did, fantastic, you’re also allowed.
I think Christine worked her ass off for this book and I think it shows. I know some people are going to assume because of her connections, it’s the only way she got a deal, and that book was written to be a best seller. So what if she used connections, it’s why we make them. So what if it’s a best seller, that’s freaking amazing. I read this book and fell in love with the story and it’s characters. I don’t know Christine. I don’t know how much her online persona, matches her real life persona, I can’t assume anything about her, except that based on her YouTube series chronicling her writing Again, but Better, she worked her ass off writing this book. I didn’t seen Christine as Shane either. I’m not giving it 5 stars because it’s Christine or because she’s a booktuber. That’s just diminishing the hard work she put into this book. I’m giving it 5 stars because I resonated with the story, as you’ll read about in the following review.
I only include this, because I’ve seen some reviews claiming otherwise, negating the hard work it is to write a book, let alone edit it and read it about a million times until it’s *perfect*. No, you shouldn’t just rate it high because of who the author is, but you also shouldn’t just rate it low because you feel like the book deal is undeserved. Read the book before you make your snap judgements. Finally, know going into my review, that it’s honest, and I’m not just raving and gushing about this book because it’s Christine.
*End of Disclaimer*
I was shocked when I got approved for Christine’s debut on NetGalley, I kind of freaked out. I’ve been following Christine’s progress of her writing this book for what feels like forever now and couldn’t wait to read it. I was excited and a little wary going into it, not sure what to expect. Excited because based on the description it sounded great, wary because I don’t always hit it off with contemporaries. I don’t usually go for contemporaries unless they are highly recommended by someone I trust, or they’re by a favorite author.
I freaking loved this book.
So much in fact, it’s earned a spot on my Top Fave Contemporary List – I should do a blog post about those books specifically.
I expected – once I started the book – that I would end up enjoying it, but I didn’t expect it to be a favorite. It’s only been eight hours since I finished the book, and I wish I could wipe it from my mind and re-read it again for the first time. I keep thinking about it, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. I already know that I’m going to push it on so many people. I might even reread it when I go on vacation this summer.
Where do I even begin? I could just go on and on about how much I love it without saying anything but that – which is what I want to do and am trying to avoid, because not helpful.
So I’ll start with this:
I don’t think there is a single person out there who doesn’t wish they could go back in time and make a different choice, do something different, redo a moment…do it again, but better. We’ve all be there; all have some kind of regrets. We all think about if we were able to go back in time and do it all over, how we’d do it, and hopefully do it better. I know I have, which is why I think this book will resonate with so many people. Well, that and it’s just a great, enjoyable read.
I thought the pacing of this book was perfect and the writing had this witty and fresh feeling. At first, I thought it the writing, which felt a little unpolished, a little strange, would hinder the story. It doesn’t. As the story unfolds, the writing style makes so much sense, and it works with the characters, the story, the atmosphere. The characters were unique and relatable. And oh, how I now wish that I had done a study abroad program. I went through a range of emotions while reading this book, though, most of the time I was a giddy, grinning, melted mess. There were moments when I wanted to shove the two MCs together and be like, “kiss already dammit”, I teared up and cried a bit at another point, and in still other moments, I felt the second hand embarrassment for real.
I need Netflix to pick this book up and make a romcom. That’s what this book is – a romcom about second chances.
Did I mention I loved this book?
Let’s talk about the characters – Shane, Pilot, Babe, Sahra, Attticus, Chad, Amy, Shane’s family…the fantastical element.
I really liked Shane and really connected with her. She’s spent her whole life following the rules, doing what she knew her parents wanted her to do. This trip was a way to start fresh, have a new experience, to break the rules. Now, my life isn’t…or wasn’t exactly like Shane’s during college. I wasn’t pre-med, but I did just go to school. I didn’t live on campus (I lived too close to justify the expense), but for the most part, I went to my classes, spent time in between classes doing work, or reading, or writing. That whole “college experience” I didn’t have it, and there was a moment, a month out from graduating, where I wished I could go back and do it slightly differently.
I understood where Shane was coming from. It wasn’t my parents desires for me to do my work, but maybe my own fear? Regardless, I know I missed out on some things. Did I still have a good time? Yes. If given the chance, would I do it differently. Some parts, yes.
I also felt connected to Shane through her love of reading and writing and blogging – three things I do on a daily basis – or at least I try to do on a daily basis.
Her growth in this novel is wonderful, and her character was just quirky and fun, and there to have a good time. She was so realistically human, and there were times that I felt for her.
Pilot, Pilot, Pilot. Why are all the good guys fictional? I loved him, even for his flaws. No one is perfect and definitely not at 20 years old. Mistakes are made. He’s here for adventure and to have a good time and to work on his music. I can’t say I related much to Pilot, but if I were in London, and needed a sightseeing buddy, I’d choose him. Easily. In a heartbeat. He makes some questionable choices, which did leave me a little hesitant to truly like him, but to make mistakes, to make bad choices it to be human. The whole purpose of this book, is to be better, to have the chance to do it again, and do it better.
The two of them together was easy. It was natural, it was right. But like any romcom, shit hits the fan before the happily ever after happens.
Babe and Sahra, Shane’s roommates and eventual friends. I loved them. They were so different and unique and existed outside of Shane. They weren’t just there to add to Shane’s story. They had their own stories, and experiences, that helped to add to Shane’s experience abroad. They had their own lives, their own troubles. I wouldn’t mind having friends like them.
Atticus, Pilot’s roommate, and all around, good guy. He doesn’t hesitate to offer a shoulder to lean on, or an ear if someone wants to talk. He’s always down to have fun. He’s pretty busy, so most of his time is spent away from the group, but he’s there when things get hard for Shane.
Chad. Chad. I have no words, because, he wasn’t a main character, but he kind of had a role. He was just Chad, and Babe deserves better.
Amy, again not a huge role, but her appearance has impact. Can’t really talk much about Amy without spoilers.
Shane’s family…she’s always felt like an outsider, always on guard against teasing and being the butt of all the jokes. It’s one of the big reasons she chooses to do the summer abroad. Just like her family doesn’t seem to truly know who she is, she doesn’t know everything that goes on with others. Like with any family, there is hardship and drama, and things don’t always go over as smoothly as we’d hope.
And finally, the fantastical element, the spirit guide, or fate if you will. She pops into Shane’s life very early on, and it drives Shane crazy. This is another one of those things, that I can’t go into too much detail on, due to spoilers.
This book was everything I wanted and didn’t know I needed in a contemporary. I loved it from beginning to end – and stayed up all night reading it because I just couldn’t put it down. I loved following Shane’s journey of self-discovery and growth. I loved watching her interact with her friends and Pilot and watching her fall in love. It was evident the time Christine spent writing and editing this book to make it be what it is. Based on her YouTube series on writing this book, she spent so much time writing and rewriting until it was perfect – for lack of a better word.
There were so many scenes in this book that I loved and having been to most of the places they went to during their travels, I could picture in my mind very clearly. Some of the scenes had me doing that thing when your super excited and anxious and you just have to shake your arms and legs and squeal – do you know what I mean? Like when you see (or in this case read) something so cute, so cheesy you just burst? There was also a moment when I threw myself out of bed and had to do that standing up – that excited happy dance…it was like 3 AM, and I’m sure the dogs didn’t appreciate my interrupting their sleep.
I love this I book and cannot wait to have a physical copy for my shelves. I can’t wait for everyone to meet these characters and hopefully fall in love with them like I did. This book will leave you feeling so warm and good inside. If you’re looking for a new contemporary romcom, with traveling abroad, making new friends, having new experiences and falling in love, then you’ll want this book!
Check out Again, but Better by Christine Roccio when it comes out May 7, 2019 – you aren’t going to want to miss it!