Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review of Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary
by Julie Murphy
330 Pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

During her sixteenth year, Alice is diagnosed with cancer, leukemia to be exact. Instead of getting sad, she gets even. She gets even with everyone who actually deserves her wrath. When she finishes her bucket list, she gets a new surprise, she miraculously goes into remission. Alice not has to learn how to deal with the choices she made, and decide what she wants to do with her life... and her relationship with her lifelong best friend, Harvey.

As soon as any of you who have not read this book sees the word "cancer" in the synopsis, you will immediately compare this to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I am here to tell you that this is nothing like The Fault in Our Stars. The only similarity in this book and The Fault in Our Stars is that the main girl has cancer. The Fault in Our Stars is about loving when you are dying, this book is about accepting life and forgiveness. I think The Fault in Our Stars is a better book (better written, better romance, etc.), but I enjoyed this book more (less sad, just fun). If you are looking at this book hoping for the next The Fault in Our Stars, you are going to be very sadly disappointed or gladly surprised.

Now that I have got that out of the way, I am going to tell you about tis book. It was told from both dual POV and dual time periods. The two point of views were Alice (the girl with cancer) and Harvey (her best friend). I didn't really have a preference between the two POVs because honestly they both sounded about the same. The two time periods were "then" and "now." The now is exactly as it sounds, when the actual story was taking place. The then is any time between a month before Alice got diagnosed and "now." I really preferred reading the then chapters because Alice was a lot less whiney, and she was spending her time preparing for her death rather than being annoying.

A huge part of this book was "the list." This was Alice's bucket list of things that she wants to do before she died. It had a few things like drive a car or go to her childhood vacation place during the off season. Then there were things like getting back at her cheat in ex-boyfriend or ruining her "mortal enemy's" life. The latter two things on the list were wildly entertaining. You get to see the evil genius come out of Alice, and it was just funny.

Another important aspect of this book was family. Alice's and Harvey's families were very close, so the aspect of the two families was beautiful. It was not like many YA books where they ignore the parents, but it was very good for the book that the parents were there. They may have not been the best parents (some of them were very good, but still), but that added another layer to the complexity that is this book.

I don't know if this is an isolated opinion, but I thought that Alice and Harvey's relationship was toxic. They were truly better off friends because they just didn't seem happy to be together. Yes, they and fun sometimes, but it just was not a relationship that was going to last. The two of them together was honestly just a relationship that was destined to fail. It would be a horrible breakup too. Since the families were so close, the two of them breaking up would be horrible. I just wish that the book focused on the list rather than the relationship.

Having said all that, I did like the book. It was not perfect (no books are), but it was very enjoyable. It was a very happy book for one about cancer. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, and you knew that she knew that everyone would compare it to The Fault in Our Stars, and she did a great job making her book stand out and be unique.

The Rating:

Have you read this book? I would love to hear your opinion about it in the comments.


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