Book Review (ARC): Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

Christine was the first BookTuber I had ever watched so I was really excited when she announced that she would be publishing a book this year. ✨ In a way, her energy and joy in her booktube videos made me feel passionate about reading again during high school when recreational reading wasn’t a priority. However, although I like and respect Christine as a BookTuber, I couldn’t bring myself to love her book. Again, But Better fell flat in its execution where several grey areas made me uncomfortable and left me disappointed with the final results.

AGAIN, BUT BETTER  by Christine Riccio

PUBLISHED BY Wednesday Books (MacMillan) on May 7th, 2019

GENRES: Contemporary

PAGES: 373

ADD TO GOODREADS    //    BOOK DEPOSITORY

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. 

CW/TW: cheating, emotionally abusive parenting, manipulation

Again, But Better follows the life of Shane Primaveri, a college student whose life had been planned out by her parents. Despite not being interested in the medical field, her parents have set her on a path to study medicine and become a doctor. She’s never had the opportunity to branch out in college, and after feeling regret for not living the true ~college experience~, she decides to spend a semester abroad in London where she can explore her passion of writing and find who she is without the pressure of her family’s expectations.

It’s no surprise the Shane Primaveri is supposed to be based on Christine’s own personality, but the things is…her character was *TOO* similar to Christine to a point where it felt uncomfortable and intrusive. 😰 Shane Primaveri is obsessed with reading, the TV show Lost, Harry Potter references, and oh did I mention that she has an online book blog called French Watermelon? (Christine’s username is Poland Bananas BTW). If you’ve ever watched Christine’s second channel or are even vaguely familiar with her life, you’d be able to associate every piece of the story with their existing counterpart.

Reading this book felt like reading Christine’s autobiography, and I didn’t feel comfortable reading something so personal. Shane came off as selfish and emotionally manipulative. While the story is supposed to be centered on her growth as an individual, it often felt like she completely disregarded others’ feelings in the process, especially when it came down to making important decisions that involved multiple people **spoiler** for example, the whole story starts with her lying to her parents about studying abroad. Also, she aggressively pushes Pilot to stay in the past when he has a life for himself in the present.

A huge reason why this book was a no-no for me was because of the cheating. Christine Shane has a crush on a boy named Pilot in her study abroad program who has a girlfriend. This is something that is mentioned from the start so for the rest of the book I just couldn’t support the romance. It’s not solely Shane’s fault because Pilot also crosses emotional boundaries by flirting and leading her on. However, even after he decides to stay with his girlfriend, she aggressively pressures him to break up with her and continually insists that they (Shane and Pilot) are meant to be.

The magical elements of this book just didn’t work for me, and it made the entire story feel even more cringy. I think it made sense based on the direction of the story, but I personally just didn’t buy it. Also, since this book read like an autobiography, it felt like Christine wanted to use the magic to go back in time and create her dream life so I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story. This entire wish-fulfillment fantasy made the book read like a personal diary x self-fanfiction.

I could write an essay about how much I dislike Shane’s parents and how they’re extremely emotionally abusive. Shane’s dad literally yells at her and cusses her out in a restaurant in front of her friends. Her family shames her for lying to them and constantly puts her down for trying to follow her own passions. While this is a realistic depiction of family relationships for many people, I wish the emotional abuse had been addressed on page as actual abuse. Instead, the ending spins their actions into beneficial for her personal growth and eventual success.

This book gave me a lot of Anna and the French Kiss vibes, primarily because of the studying abroad and cheating. I really really wanted to like this book and be able to recommend it to everyone, but unfortunately, it left me feeling down. It had potential from its self-discovery and self-acceptance storyline, but I couldn’t love this book wholeheartedly. I know that this book will be successful, and I’m sure some people will have differing opinions and even enjoy this book. I’d still consider reading her next book because I would love to see her improve. However, for me, Again, But Better just wasn’t a good fit.

Have you read Again, But Better?

Did you enjoy the book?

What were your thoughts?

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34 thoughts on “Book Review (ARC): Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

  1. I also heard similar things. I haven’t watched Christine’s channel though I should. I just don’t watch a lot of booktube in general. I’m really looking forward in reading this. Amazing review, Tiffany!

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    1. I really enjoyed watching her channel actually ☺️ I just don’t think this book was her best work. I’m still curious to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading my review~

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  2. It’s kind of sad that this book was so disappointing to so many and it’s definitely put me off, I’m well aware that youtubers-writing-books usually ends badly but I always assumed that if it was a booktuber who genuinely had a passion it’d be different but I guess just because someone reads books doesn’t mean they can write one and especially when they are known on a more personal level by readers it’s far easier to pick up on if they are just retelling their own life if that makes sense? Thank you v much for your review though it has saved me wasting time and money that can be used on something better lol ❤

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    1. Thanks for reading my review and understanding ☺️ I definitely think Christine is passionate about books and reading, but I really wished this book went through more edits and the somewhat problematic parts were taken out. It could also be coming down to personal preference, but I’m just not a fan of self-inserted stories. I’m glad that you liked my review though! If you’re looking for other self-discovery contemporaries, I’d recommend Eliza and Her Monsters, Wanderlost, or Jenn Bennett books~

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  3. i have not read again but better and besides reviews from christine’s best friends i haven’t heard anything positive about it. the book is kinda expensive here in canada and i don’t see myself paying that much for a book i dont think im going to like :/ i’ll wait for it to come at a library near me and maybe I’ll pick it up there (might be a while tho, Quebec’s libraries are in french and it takes a while for them to get english books lol!)
    i loved your review tiffany! 💞

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    1. oooo yeaaaa i’d probably wait for it to come to a library! especially if it’s expensive in canada. i think it’d still be an interesting read because it’s cool to see someone in the book community publish. i’m so glad that you liked my review too! i was a little worried to publish something more on the negative side, but i’m happy that it helped you decide your thoughts on the book~ 💞

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  4. This review was so wonderfully honest and critical, and i could see exactly what didn’t work for you!! You are amazing at writing reviews! And I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. think is this book used to be on my tbr because honestly, i would never have discovered the book community if not for Christine’s videos, but seeing the reviews, I feel like her book really isn’t going to be for me. also, I had this niggling thought in the back of my mind that this book reminded me of something, and when you said it was like Anna and the French Kiss, I was like “that’s it!” hahaha. I tried to read Anna multiple times and I just couldn’t get into it, which i guess is another reason why i was right in taking this book off my tbr. I hope your next reads will be way better ❤❤

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    1. Aww thank you Caitlin ❤️ I’m really glad that you liked it too. I was initially a little worried writing a negative review, but I think it’s important to explain my thoughts on how it didn’t work. And YES it seriously gives Anna and the French Kiss vibes (and honestly I dont know which one I dislike more aiyah) I’m grateful to Christine as well for introducing the book community, but I think if you watched her videos, you’ll think the main character is also TOO similar to her. I’d be interested to hear her thoughts if you do read it, but I hope you find other amazing reads! ☺️

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  5. I agree with so much here, unfortunately :/ I hate cheating storylines so I was never totally on board with the romance, and especially in part two when Pilot is randomly like ok fine let’s just stay in the past even though he’s been dating Amy for like 6 years?? And the fact that he broke up with her over voicemail made me go like…wow…you’re a huge douche. Also the magic I feel like could have been really cool if it was fully fleshed out but it felt sloppy and jammed in there just for plot convenience which annoyed me. I still love Christine’s booktube videos though and I really hope her next book is better!

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    1. OKAY IM GLAD YOU READ THE BOOK AND CAN RELATE TO MY FEELS 😱 I definitely agree with your feelings on cheating storylines. There’s never a good justification for it, and I hated how Pilot just disregarded his relationship with Amy. I was also really annoyed that Shane kept pressuring him to believe in their love connection. YEAH AND THE VOICEMAIL THING WAS SO DOUCHEY AND THAT HE DIDNT EVEN FULLY BREAK UP WITH HER. I also definitely agree with the magic. It would’ve been so much better if it had been better fleshed out. I hope her next book is better as well~

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  6. Thank you for this wonderful review, Tiffany and I’m so sorry to hear this book didn’t quite meet your expectations! I haven’t read it just yet, but I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about it, I think I’m going to stay away from it…. it’s too bad, I thought it had so much potential and I loved that synopsis, but the execution really seems to be lacking there and the cheating would really bother me, as well, I think :/
    Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

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    1. Aww thank you, Marie. I’m really glad that you liked my review. I think it’s not a bad idea to stay away from the book if you already know you might not enjoy it. The cheating aspect is set up right away which made it difficult to like the rest of the romance. If you do end up reading this book, I want to know ALL your thoughts ❤️

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  7. I have heard so many bad things about this book, I’m not really sure if I want to try it out at this point. The only person I’ve heard a slightly positive review from, is from someone who (like me) has never watched any of Christine’s YouTube videos, I think this makes sense since a big issue that I kept on reading about in several reviews, was that Shane’s character was too much like Christine. I love how honest this review was, wonderful as always 💕

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    1. Thanks, Chana! I think it’s a book with very polar opinions. If you’ve never watched Christine’s YouTube videos, I definitely think you’ll enjoy it more because it’s not as awkward to read if that makes sense? There were other reasons that made me feel iffy, but if you do decide to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  8. This is such a great review, really in-depth! I wasn’t planning to read this novel in the first place, and this hasn’t changed my mind. I don’t watch Christine’s videos, but I don’t think I could handle the cringe. It just seems like a lot. Also, the cheating? No, thank you. But I loved reading your review, as always ♥

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    1. Aww I’m really glad that you like it!! It’s really an iffy book. It definitely had a lot of potential but also needed more development and refining. The cheating thing made it hard to read as well. Thank you for enjoying me review!

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  9. Great review Tiffany! I am curious about this book because the heroine in college. I think heroine in college kinda rare ( or maybe I am not browsing enough) but I don’t like emotional abuse in story especially if in the end, it did not addressed properly. Thank you so much! I will skip this book!

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    1. Thank you Hana! I totally agree, and I’m really hoping to see more contemporary books sent in college student as a college student myself ☺️ I’m glad that my review was helpful to you!

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  10. I sorry to hear that this book disappointed you. I have watched Christine’s channel too and I heard people say how similar her character was to herself which I think would put me off too and I don’t like Shane was manipulative and was a part of cheating. And it is a shame the emotional abuse didn’t get properly recognised. Thank you for sharing your views– I loved the review it clearly shared your thoughts.
    I don’t think this book will be for me– it wasn’t one I was initially interested in the beginning and after hearing a few bad things I just don’t think I will enjoy it. I am still intrigued into what her next book will be about and hopefully you will enjoy more if you check it out!!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading my review, Sophie, and I’m really glad that it was beneficial to you ❤️☺️ I think we’d have similar thoughts if you did read the book based on what you’ve said, especially since you used to watch her channel too!! It’s just too weird because the characters are literally the same people, and seeing Shane cheating and everything just made it really awkward to associate the too.

      Hopefully, her next book will be better because I’d like to see what it’s about and watch Christine grow as a writer too! Thanks again for reading!! 💞

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  11. I’m so sorry you didn’t like this book, Tiffany! I’m glad you gave your honest thoughts though, because this book was on my TBR but now I feel like it won’t really be for me. Cheating is one of my biggest pet peeves to read about, so I really don’t want to read a whole romance centered around that. :/ This was a really well-written review! ❤

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    1. I’m really glad that you liked my review, Olivia !! It was a little weird for me to write because I had such high hopes, but the cheating was such a turn off so I couldn’t support the romance. Thank you for reading~~

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  12. This is a fantastic and critical review, Tiffany, and I am sorry that this one missed the mark. I would be bothered by the cheating as well, but the wish-fulfillment self-insert would make me uncomfortable too if I were familiar with Christine (I don’t watch a look of booktube).

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    1. Thank you so much for being open-minded and appreciating my review, Kal. ❤️ I’m glad that you enjoyed it and thought it was well-written. It’s always hard to write negative reviews, but I wanted to share why it didn’t work for me. If you don’t watch too much booktube, then the book might actually work better! If you end up reading it, definitely let me know your thoughts!

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  13. I’m sorry to see that this one was a flop for you, Tif! I’ve been seeing many reviews noting how similar Shane and Christine are, and I can definitely picture that making me feel uncomfortable. The romance also doesn’t sound like one that I’ll enjoy, and I don’t think I’ll be able to overlook how the abuse isn’t directly addressed. I hope your next read is more enjoyable!! ❤

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    1. Thanks for reading my review, Kelly! I think if you watched Christine videos in the past, it’s super telling how similar the characters are which is what makes it kinda uncomfy to read. I think the overall message and meaning has tons of promise so hopefully her next book will be better. I think I’m just not a fan of cheating (or at least acceptance and approval of cheating) in a book and same thing with the parental abuse. I’d be super interested to hear your thoughts if you ever pick it up so definitely let me know!!

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  14. I’m currently halfway through this and I just have to give up. I was hoping part two would be better, but it’s just making my headache worse.

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    1. OOF Sorry Lydia!! I honestly felt the same as you because this book was putting me into a slump, but I made it so far I was determined to finish it. I hope your next read is much better ❤️

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