Monday, March 17, 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

ARC, 330 pages
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Published by: Balzer + Bray
For fans of: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Health, YA

     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.


     To say I'm not disappointed in this one is an understatement. When I first read the synopsis I was so excited for it I used it as a Cover of the day, a WoW pick, and it showed up on numerous lists on most anticipated reads. To be honest, it came second only to Cress. But finally when I got this copy in my hands and began reading, all the excitement faded away.
"...she was dying and I was living and I didn't know how we could do both at the same time."
pg. 11 (ARC)
     I won't sit here and say I hated it, because that's not true. But for me to say I loved it would be a lie also. I am so conflicted about this story I don't know where to start. Let's go with the easiest. The writing style. For this to be Murphy's debut, it was hard to tell. Her writing flowed and swept me into the story completely. Especially when she mentioned the ballet and the piano. I felt like I was there watching the two of them. But, I did feel like it would have been much better if the story had been in the book as if they had happened in real time instead of the back and forth between the "Then" and "Now." The "then" is back when Alice and Harvey both knew she still had cancer. The "Now" was after remission. For some reason, it just didn't work for me. It confused me more than anything. Especially towards the end. Both versions of Harvey and Alice began to lend together and I found myself having to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see what tense it was.
"'Thankful but mindful. That's going to be our mantra the next few months."
pg. 24 (ARC)
     I also liked being able to see into both Harvey and Alice's head. Even though I hated Alice. She may have been the MC, but she was a bitch. She strung along Harvey and she hurt him in so many ways. But to make it worse, I just felt like she never grew. Not until the very end when time was up. By then I was already wanting to forget about her. But Harvey was a different story. He was the one who captured my heart and it was refreshing to see a YA male character as the person who is fighting for their love interest's attention. This was truly the first time I've ever read that. But, even still, I hated that Alice knew how much Harvey cared for her and used it to her advantage. I know this mostly happens with the roles reversed, but I don't think anyone deserves that type of treatment. 
"'There is no hiding from life, Alice Elizabeth. It always finds you."
pg. 54 (ARC)
     This story tugged on my heart strings in so many ways. From being worried to being angry at how all the teens treated each other, to being sad about how Harvey was hurting. When going in to this, be sure to understand that everyone grieves differently. And that teens and children are only products of what they've seen. Or as Murphy says, "Side Effects May Vary" from person to person.
Overall, I give this


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