Once upon a time there was a girl named Lindsay who was smiled down upon by the ARC gods and received this (signed!) beauty. And by ARC gods I mean arcfortrade, because we all know I’m not important enough to get ARCs any other way, BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE I HAVE THIS BEAUTY NOW *evil laughter* For real though, friends, I DEVOURED this book. Like, hiding under my blankets like a gremlin, refusing to emerge for food or showers or finals because I needed Christine’s debut more than I needed to be a person, and let me tell you, it was worth it.
20 year old Shane Primaveri is ready for a change. She’s done college all wrong so far—no real friends, no major she’s passionate about, no boyfriend—and so she sets out to study abroad in London during her junior year, determined to start over, make some lasting friendships, write her great American novel, and maybe even fall in love…
I was so nervous opening this book—more nervous than I’ve been for a book in a long time. I’m a huge fan of Christine’s channel and have been watching her work so hard on this book. But with a cast of memorable characters, hilarious banter, and quippy dialogue, I had nothing to be nervous about. Again, but Better is one of those books that makes you feel warm and gooey on the inside, not unlike eating a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven, and I found myself smiling like an idiot while reading (really messing with my heartless, gremlin vibe).
Characters were definitely the strongest part of the novel. The banter and development of relationships flowed really well, and I just really want to be a part of their study abroad squad, okay??? But I’m definitely not witty enough, so I guess I’ll just stay here and cry.
Our main character and not at all fearless traveler whose Lost and Davinci Code references went right over my head. I really loved Shane and saw so much of myself in her—except she’s funnier and has better hair. Her journey of reinvention was so relatable, especially when she wants to try to be more outgoing instead of resorting to her comfort zone. Did she seem a little self-insert for Christine? I mean, the girl wants to be a writer, keeps diaries she refers to as her horcruxes, and has a blog called Frenchwatermelon19, but I love Christine and it’s a debut and a contemporary, so you know what, I’m not mad about it.
Yes, like the plane or of a television series. Pilot is like if Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss hadn’t been the absolute worst to his girlfriend, and while I appreciate it, there were also too many “ho don’t do it” moments for me to add him to the *very* exclusive fictional boyfriend list.HOWEVER, he did experience great character development, especially in the, let’s call it, again, but better (YES, I KNOW I AM BEING A TEASE) part of the book.
Do any of the other characters really matter? Nah.
My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. It was like a first date, going really well at first, but then you hit that part when things get ~weird~ and you’re sort of confused how things spiraled so quickly, but then you go home, take a bath, think about it, and go “ohhhhhhhh.” It almost felt as though parts one and two of the book could’ve (and should’ve) been standalone novels, because while the character and story arcs were completed, it wasn’t the smoothest of rides and I’m still not sure how we got there.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself because it’s still a new (and highly anticipated) release, but I will there is a plot twist that I’m still not sure how I feel about. My thoughts can best be described as “oh no, what’s happening, I’m uncomfortable, oh no, holy High King Cardan this is not what I signed up for. Oh no, I think I might like this? I like the results of this, but I don’t like this. High King Cardan help.”
Overall, I’m still going to keep with my chocolate chip cookie analogy—I laughed, I felt the warm fuzzies, I smiled, and I wanted more. I can’t wait to see where Christine’s writing career goes from here, and I’ll certainly be reading the next project she blesses us peasants with!