Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Side Effects May Vary
Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Source: The Fantastic Flying Book Club/Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Adult Language
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who want a different take on a character who is dealing with cancer.
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
This book has me flip-flopping over how I feel about it. On the one hand, Side Effects May Vary is a rather refreshing take on a book involving a character who is dying of cancer. See, Alice isn't going quietly. She isn't upbeat, and cheery about her fate. She is, however, looking to leave a lasting impression. Which brings me to the other side of this arguement, Alice's bucket list isn't exactly a nice one. I'll explain more below but her outlook, more than anything, is what truly made this book a tough one for me.
Let's start with what I liked about Alice. She's fiery, passionate, and not afraid to stare death in the face. Unfortunately she's also extremely hard to like at times. When Alice finds out that she's dying, she wants to spend her last few months turning things around. This includes some kind acts, but it also includes a whole lot of pranks, revenge, and utter pettiness. Let me tell you, she drove me nuts during this time. I just couldn't see someone, even a young girl, wanting to use her last months on Earth to enact petty revenge schemes. So while I liked Alice in some aspects, I also despised her in others.
My saving grace was Harvey. He's the perfect example of a character who isn't a "bad boy" done right. He's sweet, funny, and wears his heart on his sleeve. A heart that is, in fact, so huge that it affects everyone around him. He loves his mom, works hard, and his love for Alice is blinding in it's intensity. Which, let me tell you, brings me to my next issue: Harvey's treatment at the hands of Alice. She honestly treats him like dirt most of the book. She uses him, abuses him, and then tries to make it all okay in the end. I wasn't buying it. Granted he may have let her, but that just proves his love for her. Harvey deserves better. This boy is perfection. Hell, I'll take him off her hands.
So as you can see, I'm on the fence about Side Effects May Vary. It's nice to see a story where the main character isn't going down without a fight. Where she shows that everything isn't sunshine and rainbows. Where things are messy, and that's okay. I just wish Alice were more caring. I wish she wasn't so petty. I wanted her to be the yin to Harvey's yang, so I could smile at the ending and rejoice. I wasn't given that chance, so Side Effects May Vary gets three stars from this bookworm.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.