Again, but Better
by Christine Riccio
“Unfortunately, I’m allergic to finding a buddy. I’ve failed this task on countless occasions”
SUMMARY: Shane Primaveri is not going to med school. This wouldn’t be a problem except that she completely faked a brochure and told her parents she was so she could study abroad in London. Instead, she dreams of writing the next great American novel and filling her life with words and stories. When she shows up at her dorm she vows that she is going to do everything right this time, and when an enchanting boy that makes her laugh shows up and she gets an internship at a magazine it seems to be going in the right direction. But Shane finds that life and people are more complicated than ever before and must decide who she wants to be amid the chaos.
REVIEW: I have watched Christine’s videos for ages and seen her series on writing from very early on so it was incredible to see the process of this book and the way it came to be in the world.
Again, but Better is a contemporary (somewhat magical realism) novel from the perspective of Shane. The writing in this book was perhaps my favourite thing about it. Christine writes with so much humour and wit, the internal monologue and dialogue filled with quirky and fun writing that had me laughing and smiling throughout. One of the things about the writing and story very early on was how “self-insert” this book was. Anyone who has watched any of Christine’s videos will immediately see the connection between herself and Shane to the point of wondering where the divide is. This was irksome at times because it lacked creative character design as it fell back on her own traits, however, as someone who enjoys her videos and humour, it never took away from the plot. They say to write about what you know and this felt very much along those lines, I will be interested to see what she does with her next books.
As I mentioned previously, I enjoyed Shane’s interior monologue and overall humour, making her a character that I rooted for. At the beginning she fell into some of the typical contemporary heroine tropes – never been kissed, shy, clumsy – which made me pause. But over the novel you really do get to see a growth in these qualities that makes it worth it. Other characters like Babe, Atticus, and Sahra were good supporting characters and seemed to have lives of their own outside of Shane’s which was nice to see. The other main character, Pilot…oh boy. I am not sure if it strange to say that I never truly made up my mind whether I liked him or not. The banter between the two was fantastic and in those moments I would have fallen for him too BUT the guy has absolutely no backbone I don’t know how he was standing up at all. I will say that Shane has a lot more patience than I do for lying and a higher rate of forgiveness.
The flow of the book was a little strange, almost seeming serialized into three separate parts that seems to have a different tone but I really enjoyed it that way. It was refreshing. The middle of the book felt like such a risk and I LOVED IT! It was a real, raw, intense look at how life can truly go off the rails and time flies by without you even noticing. This part for me really drove home the message of doing things right the first time and being intentional about our actions.
Overall, I really enjoyed Again, but Better. As a fan of her videos I am proud to see her dreams come true, and as a reader and reviewer of books, I am intrigued to see what she writes next.