I just want to preface this by saying I had no idea the author was a popular booktuber when I was requested Again, But Better from NetGalley, so that has no influence over how I feel about this book. Big thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest thoughts!
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 had a lot of great qualities and a couple of really not-great qualities.
Shane decides to study abroad in London to break out of the monotony of her life. While in London she makes new friends and develops feelings for Pilot, another student studying abroad. The only problem? Pilot has a girlfriend. *gasp*
I liked Shane a lot. She knew that she wasn’t living the life she wanted but she didn’t know how to break out of the cycle of doing what her parents wanted her to do and what she was comfortable with. I think comfort is such a dangerous thing: on the one hand it’s nice to have that place to fall back on when you’re stressed and on the other hand it can so easily become a detriment to living your life and trying new things. You really need to find a middle ground, and a lot of us struggle with that. This is one thing that made Shane such a relatable and realistic character to me.
Although she wants to be more bold, it’s hard to break out of that comfort zone and tell your self-doubt to shut up. Throughout the course of the book there are multiple instances where I wanted to yell at Shane for not doing something. Then I tried to put myself into her shoes and I realized that I might have made the same decision as her. This book is a great reminder to just try things and do what you want to do! As cliche as it is, you truly do only live once.
Although I related to Shane in this regard, I didn’t always support her feelings toward Pilot. There’s a lot that could be said about the dynamic between Shane and Pilot. As much as I rooted for them to date, I kind of thought Pilot was a jerk at times. I mean, why are you flirting with someone when you’re in a relationship? And why are you stringing along your girlfriend if you don’t like her that much? Seems like prime jerk behavior to me. So, it’s complicated. I like how he seems and I did ultimately want him and Shane to end up together but when I stop and think harder about it, I find that I’m overall not too crazy about his actions.
The travel components of this book, oh lordy! I love it! Reading this book reminded me on when I saw Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again for the first time. I might not have loved every part of the storyline but man, it made me want to travel like nobody’s business.
There’s a bit of magical realism in the book that surprised me that I ended up enjoying. Part of me wonders what I would do in Shane’s place. If you had the option to change everything, would you? How far would you go to do that? I’m not 100% satisfied with how the book ends, but I do like the message the twist conveys: always do your best to take the risk. We should stop hoping for do-overs and skip the need for that entirely by pursuing our hopes and passions right away.
In short, I loved the messages in the book and the travel. I loved that the characters were college-aged and had to make mature decisions because of that. I didn’t care too much for Pilot and I’m not completely in love with the ending, but the good parts of the book far outweigh these dislikes. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to YouTube and check out Christine’s channel!
If you’ve read these, you’ll probably like Again, But Better:
Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett