Title: Again, but Better
Author: Christine Riccio
Rating: DNF @ 63%
ARC provided by the publisher.
This book might be for other readers, but it was not the book for me. First off all, I prepared to love this. I studied abroad for a semester my senior year of college and to this day it remains the best experience of my life. So I was really excited about Christine Riccio writing a YA contemporary that I was hoping would remind me of my amazing memories. Unfortunately, there was so much I disliked about Again, but Better that I couldn’t even force myself to finish the book.
My first grievance is with the writing. It was so disjointed; there was no flow and it read like a bunch of short anecdotes pasted together one after another. Not only that, but it was like I was just being told what was happening, instead being able to read the story and figure it out for myself. There was a whole lot of telling and not a lot of showing. And this might be me just nitpicking, but there was a lot of overuse of exclamations and sentences that were made to exclamatory when it was totally unnecessary.
The writing also felt very personal. Other reviews have mentioned how similar the story and the main character, Shane, is to Christine’s life to the point that the story is almost semi-autobiographical. Now, I’m not into booktube so I don’t follow Christine’s channel, but even I could spot the numerous similarities. It was almost uncomfortable to read because it was like I was reading her journal.
My biggest issue, however, which made me ultimately decide to stop reading the story were the characters. There is ton of light cheating present and I would argue that the crux of the story centers around the fact that the main character, Shane, believes herself to be in love with a guy in a relationship. As soon as it’s mentioned that Pilot has a girlfriend, I hated him. He’s the kind of guy that wants to take a break with his girlfriend before travelling abroad for a few months because he “doesn’t know what’ll happen” while he’s away. Pilot not only hides the fact that he’s currently in a relationship at first, but then seems to have no qualms about engaging in some grey-area cheating (holding hands, sharing a bed with another girl, and kissing). And Shane is no better. She hardly ever mentions his girlfriend and seems to ignore her existence, but yet she actively flirts with Pilot and attempts to make a move on him.
The fact that I disliked both Shane and Pilot made it extremely hard to continue this book. Why would I want to read something when I literally do not care for characters and am actively rooting against the protagonist? I knew girls like Shane. I knew boys like Pilot. And I hated them both. Literally the only character I cared about in the book was Amy (Pilot’s girlfriend) because not only is she made out to be a villain when she obviously has the right to feel threatened, but she has a really shitty boyfriend and ends up getting the short end of the stick by the end of the book (I’m assuming). Give me a story about Amy moving on from this P.O.S. and living her best life.
Anyway, rant over. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will love Again, but Better and are not bothered by the light cheating but that person is not me. I was really, really looking forward to this but I was extremely let down.