Christin Riccio's Prose is Genuine and Warm (Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio)

6:30 AM

I know, I know, I should have posted this a month ago. How did the debut of Christine Riccio hold up? Let's go! Time for Again, but Better.


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.

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio 
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Well, you've probably already heard all variations of opinion on the book community's thoughts re: Riccio's debut. It's definitely one of those books that you either love or hate. What I have noticed, is that obnoxious trend of being rude towards her just because she is a Booktuber who's now published. Something I simply don't understand. I don't personally watch Christine Riccio's channel a lot, but I do think it's a bit unfair that the community constantly throws out backlash against Booktubers (and, of course, bloggers) who have published novels of their own.

As readers, as writers, we should be excited for other readers who find success. Even if the novel isn't your cup of tea, you should at least try to be respectful. We don't have to like, or consume, everything that others create, but we should be a little less hostile towards one another.

That being said--let's get to the book!

In preparation for Again, but Better, I avoided spoilers and only skimmed the synopsis. Why? I feel like, personally, with contemporaries, the less I know about it the better. I'm not sure if it worked to Riccio's advantage, though, because I struggled a lot with the central story as it went. I had an issue with figuring out if the novel was YA or NA, as it's classified as both on Goodreads and it's set in College-throughout the character's twenties (NA) but is shelved at stores as YA.

One of the things about Again, but Better, than I realized pretty quickly was that I wanted to like it a lot more than I actually did. I neither loved nor hated it. Sometimes, I grew frustrated with the main character and her actions, which caused me to disconnect, yet sometimes I felt connected to her. To say I've many conflicted emotions towards it is an understatement.

I really enjoyed Riccio's writing, which was genuine and warm, much like the tone she has on her channel. It's the kind of prose that is easy to slip into and will cut you with honesty one minute and then hug you the next. Again, but Better, surely has its flaws in terms of plot, but the way Riccio writes is a dream. You can feel Riccio's real life trickle in, as the inspiration tangles with fiction and it can be both delightful and frustrating.

One of my biggest complaints is the blase way a lot of topics were explored. The relationship our main character, Shane, has with her parents, for example, isn't described as inherently abusive but reads as such. The emotional and actual cheating subplot that takes place is handled in a way that is just plain sloppy. A lot of the flaws of Again, but Better, are easy for some to overlook, but for others it will beak the story.

And those flaws could have been relaxed, or have truly benefited, from a bit more development. As fa as debuts go, however, I had an easier time overlooking some of these things. Riccio's writing is proof in and of itself that she will only strengthen with time--and this is only a slight indication of what her literary voice will grow to be.

Ultimately, I think Again, but Better, is an enjoyable and engaging read for the summertime. It's on the other end of some harsh criticism, but it wasn't a bad read in the least. I loved the split timeline and the way that Riccio portrays her characters. As far as coming of age stories go, this was one of my favourites of the year but not my favourite of all time--if that makes sense.

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