Book Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Title: Again, but Better
Author: Christine Riccio
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books Release Date: May 7, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 373
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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 read this book for Barnes & Noble’s new YA Book Club. I hadn’t even heard of the book and didn’t know who the author was, although once I saw her YouTube channel name, I vaguely recognized who she was. I have to say, I wish she’d gone back and watched some of her own videos when writing this book.

The biggest problem is that the characters don’t grow and develop, they either stay exactly the same or they devolve. The character development was great in the beginning and then just started to fall apart. You’re not only still cringing at Shane in Part 2, you might find yourself cringing even more than you did before. And don’t even get me started on Shane’s parents. I get that there are parents like that in real life, but seriously, Shane’s father is just plain scary at times. Also, in the words of our facilitator tonight… he makes you want to say “choke you” to him.

The plot of the story is great. You start out thinking you’ve got a cool contemporary YA novel and then BOOM, plot twist! The execution of the plot twist itself was awesome, it was just the execution of the rest of the story. Shane is a highly relatable character because you can honestly think of some time in your life when you’ve acted in that type of cringe-worthy manner. Pilot is a great character but we don’t get to know much about him until Part 2. Just try not to face palm when you read his last name for the first time. Babe, Sahra, and Atticus are more or less just there, even though they’re all friends. It’s one of those weird things where the characters just didn’t get the type of development they should have.

I gave the book 3 stars because it’s not horrible, but it’s not great. Would I re-read it? Sure, because there are some seriously funny parts in there. But if I hadn’t already bought it, I’d just check it out from the library. It really wasn’t worth buying the book.

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