I barely read anything in May – I was just super busy with university work. However, I did manage to squeeze two books in, so here’s what I thought about them 🙂
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (3/5 Stars)
I’ve been subscribed to Christine’s YouTube-channel, polandbananasBOOKS, for years now. I don’t watch every video, but one series of hers that I particularly liked were her writing episodes, in which she documented her process of writing this book from start to finish. Being a writer myself, those videos really spoke to me, and I could tell Christine had put a lot of work into drafting and revising this book. And since the synopsis also sounded like something I’d like (a college-student Shane moving to London in order to study abroad and get a fresh start), I figured I’d go ahead and support her and get myself a copy. Overall, I’d say this is a solid debut. I’ve seen many complaints that the main character Shane is basically a self-insert of the author, and I’d say that accusation is pretty accurate. However, I also think it doesn’t matter. You write what you know best, so your own life is a good place to start when you want inspiration. Plus, that way, you can ensure that your main character has an authentic personality someone out there might actually find relatable. That part didn’t bother me at all. Instead, what I didn’t like as much about this book, was its second part. I can’t go into details without spoiling anything, but there is a major event in the middle of the book that splits it into two halves, and I just wasn’t the biggest fan of the way the particular trope involved was handled. In addition, I thought that the romance bordered on instalove, a trope I absolutely can’t stand. Still, apart from that, I enjoyed the book. I could relate to Shane and her struggles, as well as the whole study-abroad experience, and I love travel novels set in Europe. It’s always so interesting to see it from an American perspective. (Though I do sometimes wish Americans – in real life and in books – would take more time to also get to know the cultures and people here instead of just rushing from one famous sight to the next. Not that all Americans do this, but it’s a trend I did notice a lot in literature and when talking to people…)
Semiosis (Semiosis Duology #1) by Sue Burke (4.5/5 Stars)
This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read – I mean, the main character is basically an alien bamboo plant – and I loved it. If you’re a sci-fi fan like me, do yourself a favor and pick it up! It’s a survival story unlike anything I’ve read before, following a group of colonists sent to a distant planet, Pax, with plans to create the perfect society. However, the colonists soon learn that they are not the only sentient beings on Pax – to live in this new world, they have to fight for their right to be there and make alliances they could never have fathomed back on Earth. An intergenerational story, this was extremely interesting, especially from a political and philosophical standpoint. Though this book reads like a standalone, there is a sequel, so I’m dying to get my hands on that. Although I have heard that it’s out of print, so I guess we’ll have to see how easy that is… Anyways, I highly recommend this one!