Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Book Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Release Date: March 14th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Harvey laughed to himself in a sad way and rubbed his eyes. “You want me to help you with a list of things you won’t disclose to me.” He leaned forward and bit the skin around his thumb. “Classic.”
“You won’t regret it.”
“But—”
“Harvey,” I said, my voice low. “Trust me.”
I knew what this looked like. It looked like I was using Harvey. But here was the reality of the situation: the minute my life went from semi-permanent to most likely temporary, I decided to latch on to everything in my world that had always been permanent, and for me, Harvey was so permanent he was concrete.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I had heard a lot of amazing things about this one months ago. It was starting to show up on fellow readers’ Goodreads lists, and recently, ARC’s were becoming more available. So when Edelweiss put this one up, I snatched it in a hurry. I am a real sucker for the “tough subjects” books. You know, the cancer books, the terminal illness books as well as other tough subject books.

I was a little nervous when I started this one. Mostly because many of the people who have already read it, loved it. While I didn’t love it, I definitely liked it a lot. When you are told that your cancer is in remission, you feel a variety of different emotions. It’s especially strange after you’ve been told that there’s nothing more they can do and that you will die and probably soon.

That’s how Alice feels. She knows that she should be over the moon excited that her life is not nearing an end,at least not yet, and that she has time to be with her loved ones. Yet, that’s not how she feels. Now that she’s not dying there are things that she feels that need to be done. Admittedly, she uses the boy who has loved her, to her advantage.

Harvey knows that Alice knows that he’d do anything for her. He’d help humiliate the boy she dated before she got sick. He’d help humiliate the girl who her boyfriend was cheating on her with.He doesn’t grow a backbone until the book is nearly over. That really bothered me. While I know that Alice feels like she needs to do this, it’s hard to be understanding when she is so obviously using the boy who loves her.

I liked Alice pretty much the whole time even though I know there were parts where she was pretty mean. Until you’ve been in her position, you really cannot say how you’d react to the news that your seemingly incurable cancer is in remission.

I loved all the parental involvement in this book. I mean having Alice’s parents involved was practically a given since she had such a serious illness. Having Harvey’s mom, Natalie so present in the book was awesome. I really loved how all five of them were so close. It was like a big happy family at times. You don’t usually have that in YA books.

I didn’t love the dual POV combined with switching from the then and now time periods. At times it just got really confusing. I think it would have been better had Julie picked one. Either a dual POV or then & now time periods. At the beginning, I kept having to flip back a few pages on my Kindle because I would get confused about the timelines.

I cried a little bit in the beginning and a little bit in the end, so the feels were there, but not as much as I was expecting them to be. I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t love this one like I wanted to, however, I did like it a lot and that is why I am going to give it 4 stars. Yes I would absolutely recommend this book.

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Book Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my birthday money.

Review:
I have read a lot of cancer books before, but I had never read one that was both heartbreaking and hysterically funny at the same time.There were times where I was reading this book where I’d be laughing so hard I was crying and then a mere two minutes later I was crying hysterically at a heartbreaking part.

Hazel is blunt, honest and witty. All of those things I love in characters. She knows that her time is dwindling but she is trying to live whatever life she has left. She knows that her amazing parents have done everything in their power for her. Her mom has made a career out of taking care of her and her father is always there for her. Supporting her & loving her. 

She’s not a huge fan of Cancer Kid Support Group, but she goes. She goes for her parents mostly. Support group has a revolving door of attendants. Sometimes someone comes repeatedly and then they suddenly stop coming. There is only one real reason that people stop coming and that’s because they have died.

Hazel has one “normal” friend by the name of Kaitlyn, but it’s very hard to relate to Kaitlyn anymore. Kaitlyn doesn’t carry around an oxygen tank. Kaitlyn doesn’t have to be hooked up to oxygen around the clock. She has no idea of the hell that Hazel has been through. Nor would Hazel want her to know what it’s like. Hazel wouldn’t wish having shitty lungs on her worst enemy.

Never in her life, did Hazel expect to meet one-legged Augustus “Gus” Waters. Yet she does and there’s like an instant connection. I wouldn’t call this insta love. Mostly because it takes Hazel a bit longer to warm up to him than vice versa. Relating to Gus is easy for Hazel. While they don’t have the same type of cancer, Hazel still feels like she can relate to him. 

Watching them bond over a book was awesome.It was like a book within a book which I thought was really unique.Watching their relationship develop slowly was a treat. They knew that they were living on borrowed time but that didn’t mean that they had to rush the relationship.

I had cried in the first 75% of the book but that was nothing compared to the last quarter of the book. I full on ugly cried during that last 25% Did I expect something like that to happen? Yes I sort of did, but expecting it and seeing it in print was a totally different ball of wax. By the time the book was over,I had used a quarter of my brand new kleenex box.

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” Hazel

Issac was an awesome secondary character. He was from Support Group and he went through a lot in this book. He always seemed to have something hysterically funny to say, even if the situation didn’t necessarily call for it.Despite everything he went through during this book, he was a great friend to Hazel & to Gus. 

For all the love I could give this book, I could also admit that it wasn’t perfect. There were lulls in the story that bored me for a little while. The lulls didn’t last long but they were there. The lulls are the reason that this book is getting 4 stars. I loved everything else about this book but the lulls were a bit too frequent for me to give this book a full five stars.