Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Balzer + Bray, 336 Pages
Source: Bought the Audiobook
Age Group: Young Adult
Voice Actors: Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heybourne
Recommended for: fans of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
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 can definitely see the comparison that some people might make to The Fault in Our Stars but really – I have to say that the two books actually make me feel two completely different types of feelings. Side Effects May Vary felt..raw to me – real in the realist sense. High school – full of mean people and teenage life in general – can suck. Add in cancer, some other real life situations, and one of those complicated best friend relationships. You can see why Alice is spiraling out of control (and trust me, she is).
This book is gritty – it’s ugly-pretty. Half of the time I was so mad at teenagers being teenagers and the other half I was just plain disappointed in the decisions that they were making. The only other book that has recently made me feel that way is The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. It’s like I wanted to shake these characters and ask them why they were doing what they were doing and how could they be so blind?
Side Effects May Vary made me feel passion for life and living, and sadness for those living it in such a self-destructive way. This book is heart-wrenching but not in the way most people think of the word. I recommend picking it up when you’re in the mood for something a little bit heavier.