YA Contemporary Fiction, YA romance

My Review: Again, but Better: by Christine Riccio

Publish Date: May 7th 2019
Number of Pages: 373 Pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre(s): YA Fiction, YA Romance

Total Stars Rating: 4.25 Stars

FIRST EVER BOOK REVIEW FOR THE WEBSITE!

Upon finding this book as a highly anticipated release for early 2019, I was immediately drawn towards it. While I’ve never followed the author on her YouTube channel or read any of her reviews, I decided to give it a chance.

What a great decision it was!

Not only did I love this book, but I didn’t realize how much I needed it on an emotional level; how it gave me strength and hope when I wasn’t in a good place mentally and emotionally, but I’ll get more into that later. This book was just such a feel-good journey about second chances, first love, self acceptance, and finding oneself in this crazy world we all live in!

What It’s About:

The story is about Shane, an incredibly shy girl who impulsively decides to study abroad in London for a semester her junior year of college because she had the overwhelming need for change. She was sick of her old ways; staying in and binge watching whatever show she could find on Netflix, not making any deep friendships, not going out with guys, not having her first kiss, and going home every other weekend. She knew she had to make a major change, a fresh start. She gets to her flat and meets four new people that she will be living with: Babe, Sahra, Atticus, and Pilot. Together, they continue their studies, work at their internships and travel on weekends, and Shane soon discovers that feelings develop for a certain someone. The big question to start off was: can she overcome her doubts, her fears, her insecurities and truly change for the better?

The book is split into two parts. Her time in London in 2011 and 2017. Years later in 2017, Shane returns to that person, full of regret and disappointment over how she left things with them and the path she chose to take in life. They reacquaint themselves, and without revealing too much, have an opportunity to have a second chance at the choices they both made. Do they do it? Is it worth it? Will it all work out in the end?

What I liked:

  1. The Story’s Themes/Message! It’s about change and growth. Shane was a relatable character to me because so much of my life I’ve also been that shy, wallflower type that cares way too much about what others think, and sometimes I’m still like that. She really grows through the story, and when readers see her later on, she’s much more bold, brave, and outspoken. The story made me really think about the path I’m on and reflect on the decisions that I’ve made along the way, and if I’m still on the right path. Honestly, there is no clear cut written way, everyone’s is different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all have the same successful ending.
  2. It Gave Me Hope! This book gives me hope for me, and for my future. The piece of advice it gives readers is to never give up on your dreams, no matter what. Go for it, whatever it is, and stick with it. In the story, Shane realizes the struggle of balancing everything going on in her life: specifically boys, her classes and her internship. She became so enamored with a boy that she doesn’t realize how little she paid attention to the other parts of her life until it all blew up in her face, and she felt the rug ripped from under her feet. The end of the book was so warm, so fluffy, that I could imagine how that must’ve felt for the characters, and the inspiration it gave me to want to experience those feelings for myself someday. It gave me a drive to keep going on the WIP that I’m currently typing away at.

What I didn’t like:

  1. The Datedness of the Different Time Periods…At first, it was incredibly charming how the author mentions things that were important to the certain year, like with books and movies. In 2011, She was reading the third Mortal Instruments book to prep for the fourth one releasing soon, the mention of a new app game that just came out named Angry Birds, and T-Swift’s new album, Red. In both parts of time, the author makes it a point to remind readers of what year the story was in, and it became kind of “ehhh” for me. I think it makes the book incredibly dated for the current moment in time, and even five years later, this will affect the overall quality of the story for whatever GenZ, Q, TQ47 or whatever terms they come up with for the next generation.
  2. The Magical Twist…Halfway into the story, when Shane meets up with a certain someone in 2017, there’s a twist that comes along with a mysterious woman who had appeared out of nowhere on occasion, and I’ll admit, I was not all that excited about it for the overall story. After reading further into the story, it grew on me a little bit, because its dramatic, unrealistic addition to the story allowed the two main characters to have a second chance at their time in London that changed not only their relationship, but their futures in general. It gave them something we all wish to have and ask ourselves constantly: “What would we do differently if we could go back in time with what we now know?” I ended up liking this aspect simply because its a major component of the plot and drove it forward, but it does feel incredibly random, cheesy, Disney Channel Original Movie-esque from the 90’s at some points.
  3. The Prose…It’s pretty plain to see that this is the author’s first book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For a debut work, its an incredibly strong one, but her prose/ word choice seemed very amateurish and basic at certain parts. an example was how she used the same words a lot. “Snorted” was probably the worst; there was lots of snorting going around. Another one was “the fluffy sponge” I just didn’t like that sentence for some reason…

Conclusion:

Overall, this book does feel like a young author’s first release, but that’s okay. No book is ever perfect, and the overall message that the book sends to the reader is still very strong and heartwarming like a classic Disney Channel Original Movie.

It’s a coming of age, romantic, with international travel kind of story that reminds me of another similar story, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Both are about a girl who goes to a foreign, European country and find friends, romance, and themselves. Both, however, have what the other needs: AATFK was a much better written story, but A,BB was so much more impactful of a story. This book, while it has its faults, now holds a special place in my heart because it reminded me to keep going for my dreams, and to work hard to get where I’m at.

It’s like what I said at the beginning: I didn’t just love this book, I NEEDED this book. It even helped convinced me to finally start this blog!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

3 thoughts on “My Review: Again, but Better: by Christine Riccio”

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