Christine Riccio, one of the most popular names in the BookTube community, brings a lot to the table: She’s a film enthusiast, comedy-sketch writer and avid book devourer. On May 7, she will become a published author when “Again, But Better” is released.
Riccio’s highly anticipated debut is a project that has been thoroughly documented on her channel, PolandbananasBOOKS, which features a variety of comedic videos, including literary commentary, sketches and sequel theories.
It’s an exciting time for both Riccio and her followers, who have attended BookCon, book signings and author interviews. Although there are already many questions regarding the quality of the the novel’s genre, characters and plot, it’s safe to say that Riccio’s bubbly personality and undying love for storytelling will be evident on every page.
Despite this, there is some anxiety about whether “Again, But Better” will live up to the hype it’s generating.
Riccio’s impressive following consists of over 400,000 subscribers who have tuned in to her eccentric book reviews and trusted her opinion regarding upcoming releases, and so there is concern whether her online personality will be rated or the overall content of her novel.
Will there be a fan bias when searching through online reviews? Do years of reading, reviewing and discussing books count as a sort of apprenticeship?
What Is “Again, But Better” About?
Riccio’s first novel is led by protagonist Shane Primaveri, a pre-med student who realizes that the majority of her college experience is more work than play. Needing a second chance at life and happiness, Shane enlists for a semester abroad in London. Surely, new friends, maybe some boys and new experiences will fix everything … right?
If you follow Ricco’s channel, then you’ll know she kept the details of her novel close to her heart until she felt comfortable enough to reveal the exciting secrets of her world building.
In a 41-part video series titled “The Book Writing Chronicles with XTINEMAY,” Riccio reveals her intentions of completing the first draft of a novel and how the idea has been in the works for about five years.
It’s an exciting series of updates to follow, especially to aspiring writers and fellow reviewers. Of her writing process, Riccio said, “I want to document the experience in some sort of journal that I can look at in the future.”
One of the critiques Riccio already faces is how her story contains recycled themes that can be found in other contemporary romances that feature an international setting. Specifically, readers worry that it will resemble popular novels such as Stephanie Perkins’ “Anna and the French Kiss.”
Perkins’ novel is one of the most popular YA contemporary novels currently on shelves, and there will inevitably be some similarities in how they are structured. But you can also say this of other titles in this genre, just as you can find thematic and plot similarities between major high-fantasy series.
When it comes to combating book similarities , Riccio shared some wisdom from her college workshop days. “Your story is like another story, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write it,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be different.”
More often than we realize, stories told in books or films are adaptations of older stories. Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” has a complex and intricate system of politics and magic, which is often seen to have been inspired by Tolkien.
Does this make the novel drastically unoriginal and bad? No, it allows an author to give an original spin on an often overused plot.
Concerns Over Biased Fan Reviews
Riccio is not the first YouTube personality to release a work of fiction. Joey Graceffa and Sasha Alsberg have released their own works, and fans send these titles quickly up the charts of the New York Times’ best-seller’s list.
It’s this trend of YouTubers releasing books and quickly rising to success that concerns some of Riccio’s viewers. Reviews on the Goodreads page for the book range greatly, with an average of 4.15 stars, despite the fact that only source of actual reading material is the advanced reader’s copy of the book.
However, it is worth noting how this work of fiction came to be.
Many of the reviews on the Goodreads page point out the similarities between Riccio and her main character, Shane. As an avid viewer, this is one of the most exciting prospects of the novel.
How Shane Primaveri will be read, understood and discussed matters. It will speak to Riccio’s ability to write a compelling character, but it will also make it a relatable read.
Riccio has a very positive, lively attitude in her videos, and if Shane is anything like her, then this will be an extremely entertaining book.
Kirkus Reviews comments on the novel, writing, “The first-narrative is natural and charming…the story seems designed for adult readers who might long to change their own pasts,” which adds on to the feel-good elements a contemporary YA novel should always have.
Regardless of all the attention that “Again, But Better” has already received, it’s only fair to read it before assessing the ability of the author as a creative writer.
Anyone who comes across Riccio and hears her speak about her projects will know how much love, dedication and devotion she places into each and everyone one of them.
“Again, But Better” is an achievement, and hints at what’s to come in Riccio’s career as an author.
Whether or not there are similarities between protagonist and author or other contemporary novel themes, this should not diminish the hard work Riccio has put into her first book.
Hard work pays off, which is evident in Riccio’s blogs documenting her long journey to publication.
After years of drafting, revising and sending out her novel into the hands of others, Riccio is finally achieving her dreams.
In addition to social media, you can also connect with Riccio on her website.