Monday, 17 March 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy: Review

Side Effects May VaryTitle: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Buy This Book:  Amazon / Book Depository

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? (Goodreads summary)

I was so excited for this book, it even made my top ten list of 2014 books I was excited for. So I am more than a little disappointed that I ended up not really liking the book all that much. It wasn't what I was expecting at all and I kind of just feel very meh about it. From the blurb I had assumed this would be about the bucket list and how she completes it. But it switches from the past, where she first gets diagnosed and throughout her treatments, to the present, where she has completed the bucket list, found out she's not dying and now has to deal with the consequences. I was a little thrown off by the back and forth between the past and the present and it confused me.

My main issue with the book, and I believe it was probably the same issue most people had with the book, was how unlikeable Alice was as a character. She wasn't just a little hard to deal with, she was absolutely unbearable. I appreciated that she wasn't made into this loveable person just because she had cancer, but I wish she wasn't so detestable. She is self-centred, stubborn, malicious, manipulative and just a total mean girl. I wanted so much to like her and for her to have that one redeemable moment where she would grow as a character and then she just didn't.


Harvey was completely different to Alice, he was just so lovely. He was adorable but to a fault. He loves Alice, has done for years and for him there is nobody else. It seemed cute to begin with but after a while you start to feel really sorry for the poor boy. Alice treats him like dirt most of the time and he just takes it, even when he knows she is just using him. I just wanted to hug him and tell him it was going to be okay, that hopefully she might just die and then he could move on and find someone nice. This book was too extreme with the difference in personalities - Harvey was too nice and Alice was far too mean and it was hard for me to want to even slightly root for them to end up together.

I started off enjoying the book, I could understand Alice more in the very beginning. She wasn't sad that she was going to live, she was scared. She had spent so long preparing to die that she had forgotten how to live, she had a whole future ahead of her that she wasn't prepared for. But that doesn't mean she can be a total bitch to everyone around her, especially Harvey because, well, I love Harvey. As time went on and I got to know Alice more as a character I realised that she really was just a horrible person. She had her reasons but they weren't good enough to justify how she acts.

This had all the elements at times of a book that I could DNF, but I couldn't with this one. I needed to see how this all turned out in the end and what became of Harvey. Did he end up with Alice? Did he find a nice girl who'd treat him right? Did Alice do a complete 180?

The end infuriated me, I actually felt like my Kindle copy was incomplete. It just seems to cut off, it didn't have a proper end to me. I went through all of that and that was the ending I got. I was really not amused that I stuck with this book and that was what was waiting for me at the end. It felt so incomplete to me and it brought my rating down even lower because it wasn't a satisfying ending for me. My notes just say: WTACTUALF in regards to the ending and that about sums it up.



2.5/5 Stars

The ending wasn't at all satisfying for me, it felt like it just cut off. I hated Alice as a character and she didn't seem to have one redeemable quality. I absolutely adored Harvey but he put up with far too much of Alice's crap and I wanted to rescue the poor boy from her. This wasn't what I was expecting at all but I still couldn't put it down, I had to finish. 




*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.

16 comments:

  1. I *HAD* looked forward to this one, but this is like the 5th mediocre review I've read.

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  2. Ouch. Well, this definitely doesn't sound like my kind of book. It is a cool premise but it doesn't sound like it really delivers an entertaining read. Thanks for the review!

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    1. It didn't deliver and definitely wasn't what I was expecting. It wasn't the worst thing I have ever read but it wasn't that great either.

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  3. I keep reading similar reviews and I don't think I'm going to read this book. Part of me thought it was interesting that the MC is so unlikeable (and I still wonder why the author chose to portray her that way) but if she's that bad that you don't care about her at all, having no redeeming traits and not growing, etc. then that means I'm not going to like her and also not like the book. And then what you said about the ending…what??? There's no way I'm reading it now, that does not sound good at all. Thanks for the honest review and saving me money and time! ;) ~Pam

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    1. At the beginning I really liked her because she seemed to have a bit of an attitude. Having cancer didn't suddenly turn her into a nice person and I liked that the author chose to do it that way. But it was pushed to the extreme, to the point where it's hard to find any nice qualities in her. The ending just felt incomplete to me, it honestly felt like my copy cut off or something.

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  4. Yep, I felt the exact same way. I wanted to like Alice and up until a certain point I understood her. I get the reasons why she acts the way that she does but it's not an excuse for her to act so horrible. I feel bad for not liking her, but I can't and I like Harvey because he lets her. Being in their headspace was so freaking hard for me.

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    1. In the very beginning I did like her, but that quickly changed. It was hard for me too, especially when I couldn't really understand either of them and the way they acted.

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  5. I've read similar reviews about this book. I did like this book though and gave it 4 stars. All in all, great review and I do see your point about Alice being so despicable! :)

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

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    1. I know, I just couldn't root for her because she was a little too mean!

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  6. I can get how being told you're going to die would make you angry and want to lash out at everyone, but if I were really going to die, I wouldn't want to leave behind that kind of pain. I'm the type of person who turns pain inward instead of outward anyhow. I agree with you - I'm glad she wasn't made instantly loveable because she has cancer, but I'm shocked she's so mean and hateful. Wow!

    I have this book from Netgalley, so I'll still give it a go, but I'm not nearly as excited about it. I've read some other reviews where this book didn't work for other readers as well. :/ I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

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    1. She is really horrible, I thought she might become less like it over time or have her redeemable moment. But to me she never redeemed herself, she was really, really mean.

      I have seen some great reviews, so you might really enjoy it. I just needed some characters who were more likeable.

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  7. Sorry to hear that this book was a meh for you. I have seen similar thoughts on other blogs. Oh well. :(

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    1. It's just one of those things, I was disappointed but hopefully the next book I read won't be as much of a disappointment!

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  8. I'm sooo with you. -_- I was horribly disappointed and upset by this book. And, yup, you said it: I couldn't possibly root for them to be together. I didn't WANT them to end up together. After all the mean stuff Alice did/said I couldn't trust she was going to be nice once I closed the book. I'm sure she'd just flip out again someday and go back to being basically emotionally abusive to Harvey. I actually felt happy when Harvey started dating that other girl! And the ending...yeeeah. The whole grandfather thing was weird as. obviously Harvey didn't look very hard to find relatives then, did he?

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    1. I did not trust Alice as a character and she clearly didn't deserve Harvey! He was so lovely and I think he would have been better off with the other girl. I was really happy when he started to try and move on, I was really sad when he went back to Alice - even though you knew he would! Such a disappointing read :(

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