“It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.”
My Rating: ★★★
Genre(s): Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Reading Challenge: 25 out of 35
New Adult is one of my favourite yet one of the most overlooked and under appreciated genres out there. What gives? As someone who falls into the ‘new adult’ category (ages 18-30, for the most part), I look around at the novels that everyone’s talking about and that show up on my Goodreads feed and see primarily Young Adult and Adult fictions. This is in large part why I chose to pick-up Again, but better - because, as someone in their twenties, I don’t feel that my age group is well-represented in novels and it’s hard to find relatable stories out there. But this is actually something that Again, but Better author, Christine Riccio pointed out at the start of her own novel. Again, but Better came from her own desire to see herself in novels when she was university age.
Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t bad per se; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
For starters, I took issue with the way that the characters doled out pop culture references in every. single. paragraph. Pop culture references can be done very well. For example, Gilmore Girls - a show that’s so heavily based on pop culture references in dialogue that that (along with the fast-paced talking and coffee) is what it’s known for - does it perfectly. Again, but Better… Well, it just didn’t do it for me. The references were cheesy, to be put plainly. Being someone who was young in 2011 (in fact, much younger than Shane Primaveri), I found that the way the characters referenced things such as “T-Swizzle” was cringey and not at all how people talked in 2011. I understand that the abundance of references were done for the purpose of establishing timeline but yikes, it just wasn’t easy to read at all.
In general, the language of this novel was a little odd to me.
Given that the characters were not all that far from my own age in the 2011 portion of the novel (they were 20, I’m 21), I found the language and actions of the characters to be very immature. This was probably the most disappointing thing for me because it made the novel so unrelatable, despite it being a New Adult Fiction. Both the dialogue between characters and Shane’s inner monologue left me feeling a bit exhausted. And while I’m sure for some it was entertaining, the type of humour in this novel - the loud, out-there gags - was just not for me.
I won’t go too much into detail about the whole ‘socially anxious’ side of Shane’s character because. . . ugh.
Shane Primaveri has the type of literary ‘social anxiety’ that makes her babble and occasionally say the wrong thing and makes her clumsy when she’s nervous. But let me just say, I have social anxiety. It’s crippling and not at all cute. And with social anxiety, you don’t typically just travel overseas on your own and live your life without any burden. How about in 2020 we stop equating quirky, shy characters with socially anxious characters? That’d be nice.
But, of course, I won’t belittle the good aspects of this novel!! It did have an interesting concept - in fact, that’s what mostly drew me to this novel in this first place. Throughout my university career, I’ve been plagued with worries that I ‘haven’t done university right’ (spoiler alert: there is no right way). So seeing a character who was also struggling with their direction and their identity was really comforting. Shane’s journey of self-discovery was (mostly) inspirational, especially in the second half of the novel. Additionally, I like how she took charge of her own life and decided to follow her dreams, despite the risks.
All of this to say that Again, but Better might be the sort of book you’re looking for - but it might not be.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you want to read this, I’d recommend watching Christine Riccio’s YouTube channel (fun fact: Christine was a Booktuber before she was an author). Christine has a very specific type of personality that really shows in her writing. In fact, quite controversially, Again, but Better appears to be semi-autobiographical. If you’re not into Christine’s personality in her videos, you probably won’t love this book.
What’s your opinion on Booktubers writing books? Are you for or against it?
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.