Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary
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, who 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 archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). 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 caused 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.
Goodreads/ Amazon/ Barnes&Noble

When Alice is diagnosed with cancer, she decides to spend the time she has left to right all wrongs with an essential revenge bucket list. She's able to do this with the help of her best friend Harvey, who happens to be in love with her. But when it turns out that she isn't going to die from cancer, she has to face what she did when she thought she was dying.

When I first heard about this book I automatically wanted to read it. I was expecting a fun book where the characters had to face the things they did in the revenge bucket list. It sounded more like a fun read to me, but it wasn't really that fun.
This book was told from two points of view:
Alice: She's our cancer girl and let me say this: she's a bitch. I feel bad saying this, but she's probably the most unlikeable main character I ever had in a book. She's rude to everyone, selfish, and the whole entire book is basically her using Harvey. I would chalk her meanness to her cancer, but there are sections in this book before the cancer and she acts the same way. And there were points where she almost redeems herself (with the dog and at the end) but nope, she goes back to her rude self.
But I got the feeling that the fact that Alice is an unlikeable character was supposed to come though. The author wanted us to dislike her.
Harvey: Poor Harvey. I felt sorry for the guy. You can tell that he honestly loves Alice but, as I said before, Alice uses that fact against him. Harvey gets used and used and used all throughout this book by Alice and it just makes you hate Alice more. He eventually stands up to Alice, but still, almost the whole plot revolves around him getting used.
And Harvey is a really nice guy (which makes me question how he is friends with Alice) which makes it worse.

This oddly brings me to the main reason as to why I couldn't fully get into this book: the whole book is just constant angst between Alice and Harvey where Harvey loves Alice but get used by Alice. Oftentimes in the book Alice is going back and forth between staying with Harvey as more than a friend and keeping distance. Then Harvey is going back and forth between loving Alice and leaving Alice because she's being a bitch. To be honest, this both annoyed and exhausted me.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike this book.
Sure, I had issues with Alice's character and the angsty romance, but I did like reading this book.
Alice only told half of the book, the other half was told by Harvey who is a character that I like.
I also thought this was an interesting contemporary book.
It didn't wow me, but I did like the book and was invested in the story at points.
Do I recommend this book? That depends on who you are.
A lot of people probably wouldn't be able to look past Alice's character and dislike the entire book due to her. So if you are unable to read books with unlikable characters, this book is not for you. If you can read books with unlikeable characters, you can give this book a try if you want to.

I hereby give this book
3 Wheels!
Meaning: I liked it.

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