This month’s book club pick was Again, but Better by booktuber and fellow YA lover, Christine Riccio!
Again, but Better follows 20 year old Shane Primaveri on her study abroad semester in London, England circa 2011. Her college life had been one word, boring! That’s why Shane’s semester abroad had to be perfect: she was going to have her first kiss, be more outgoing and meet new friends, and kick ass at her writing internship— if only things were that easy!
Along the way, Shane realizes that making a new life for oneself doesn’t always pan out. The boy, Pilot, who she is majorly crushing on has a girlfriend; the program she’s completing while in London isn’t for premed students like her parents believe, forcing her to lie to not only her family, but everyone around her; and her dream of succeeding at her internship at a magazine and becoming a writer is out of reach. Readers follow Shane on her adventures around Europe, where she makes new friends, falls in love, discovers herself…and fails (like, epically) along the way. Shane’s 2011 semester abroad may have come to a close in the first half of the book, but this definitely was not the end for Shane and her adventures!
Fast forward six years to 2017. Shane is about to become a doctor, is dating some guy named Melvin— whom she has zero connection with— and is still missing Pilot. When Shane’s spirit guide (yes, you read us correctly, she has a spirit guide) gives her the opportunity to do her semester abroad all over again she jumps at the chance at a redo with her friends, Pilot, and her writing internship. This time, Shane made sure to not repeat the same mistakes.
Again, but Better gave us major 17 Again vibes, which we didn’t hate! We admit, the time travel aspect of the plot was unexpected, but thoroughly enjoyable. Riccio had us engaged the entire time and we were rooting for Shane on her journey of self-discovery. Pilot, the love interest, was a cutie and his chemistry with Shane was palpable. The side characters, Shane’s friends Babe and Atticus, were fun and added to the story nicely.
We could tell that Riccio wrote the book with herself in mind. She incorporated lots of YA book and pop culture references, which were enjoyable but sometimes felt overdone. We get it, the year is 2011 and you love Taylor Swift. Overall, though, it read like a tribute to YA lovers and we thoroughly enjoyed the book. Seeing Shane come into her own and fall in love with Pilot not once but twice was a treat and we can’t wait to see what Riccio has in store for us with her next book!