Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary
By: Julie Murphy
Pub. Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 336
Source: Edelweiss

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? 
I received this galley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss.

Side Effects May Vary was one of my most anticipated books of 2014 so I was so excited when I saw it on edelweiss. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. That isn't to say it's a bad book. It is a very good book, I was just hoping to love it, instead of just like it.

The story, told in the point of views of both Alice and her best friend (whose also madly in love with her), Harvey also switches back from the present ("Now") to when Alice finds out she has cancer, or more specifically, acute lymphocytic leukemia ("Then"). I loved this idea! I thought the back and forth added so much to the story.

When Alice finds out she has cancer, she 1. becomes friends with Harvey again and 2. decides to get back at the people who wronged her. I really disliked Alice. Someone in the book said it perfectly, it's hard to feel bad for her because she is basically a horrible person. The way she treated Harvey was disgusting. Harvey was there for her through the worst parts of having cancer,  but after she found out she was in remission, she went back to treating him horribly. I can't like or respect someone who acts like that. Harvey was such a good person, but I couldn't really like him either. He needed to grow a backbone. My dislike for the two main characters is what made it hard to truly love this book.

I did love the premise of the story though! There were some fun and hilarious parts, which I really enjoyed. But in the end, I was left unsatisfied. I really hated how it ended. I get what the author was trying to do, I just wish it was done differently.

Overall, I did like the story. There were some good parts, I was just hoping for a lot more. I would recommend others read it though. Just because it didn't work completely for me, doesn't mean someone else won't love it! 

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