Again, but Better
Author: Christine Riccio
Publication Date: 07 May 2019
Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary Romance (some magical elements)
Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press
From one of the most followed booktubers today,
comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering
yourself, and being brave enough to try again.
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.
Right off the bat, we are introduced to Shane. She’s 20 years old, suffers from anxiety, and is on a plane headed to London to study abroad. Ignore the fact that she made no friends while she’s been in college and she’s never been kissed (cue Drew Barrymore). Shane’s biggest problem is that her parents are under the impression that they have sent her to London to take part in a prestigious pre-med program for the semester when in actuality, said program doesn’t exist, and she’s pursuing creative writing instead; a degree program that her father thinks is utterly worthless (you can already see where this is going).
When Shane arrives in London, she meets both of her flat mates: Babe and Sahra. They immediately bond with the boys next door: Atticus and Pilot (and his last name is Penn…no joke). Shane has an instant crush on Pilot and realizes that they have so many things in common (i.e. love of card games, the Beatles, Shawarma Wednesdays, etc.). As Shane spends more time with Pilot, she believes that he will FINALLY be her first kiss. They even almost kiss at one point, but Shane runs away out of fear.
As the story continues, Atticus accidentally informs the group that Pilot has a girlfriend when he’s trying to figure out if everyone is single or in a relationship. Now up to this point, like Shane, we assumed that Pilot was single. I mean the sexual tension between Shane and Pilot was palpable, so I could completely understand why Shane felt betrayed. Pilot ends up shutting himself off from the group, and everyone slowly starts to go their separate ways including making Spring Break plans without consulting each other.
Honestly, I wasn’t really sure where the story was going after the tumultuous events from the study abroad trip. I assumed that this was going to be a “one that got away” type of situation, and then BAM, plot twist half way through the book. I had to read the chapter to regain my bearings. After that, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what happened next.
One of my favorite parts of this book was Shane’s experiences of London. I studied abroad in London when I was 20 years old, and the references gave me so much nostalgia from my own time there. I loved the shout out to Café Nero, which was one of my favorite places for a latte. Like Shane, I was bewildered the first time I tried to shop for pasta and realizing that we have so many varieties of pasta sauce in the United States and the Brits did not. Being able to legally drink in a bar at 20 and having NO clue what to actually order from the barman. I literally felt like I was transported back in time, which I think had a HUGE effect on my feelings while reading this book.
The only real gripe I had with this story were some of the character names. I already didn’t like Pilot’s name, but when Shane nicknames him Pies…I just couldn’t get on board with it. I get how the nickname came about but still, just no. Also, Babe is the name of a very popular pig. And the entire time I read her character, I was wondering if the author was trying to allude to the fact that she was overweight, which I didn’t much care for.
Overall, I think this book is a great read. This story is about second chances, but not just from a romantic point of view. It also is about second chances when it comes to family and friendships as well.
Thank you to Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an eARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.