Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy is one of those books where I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. The story was intriguing to me- Alice finds out she has cancer, and when she's supposed to be dying, she makes this list of things she wants to do. Some of it is good, but some of it involves revenge. She takes along her best friend Harvey to help her, even though she knows he doesn't feel comfortable doing it, but will do it for her (basically exploiting his feelings for her). Then, after her year of torturous treatments, preparing to die, and doing all of these things, she finds out that shes not going to die after all. Now what is she supposed to do?
The story has a lot of elements of other books I love, mainly John Green novels. Think Paper Towns meets The Fault in Our Stars. Then add in the the split storytelling style of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, and you have Side Effects May Vary. And I have to say, I really am not a fan of books that split perspectives while telling the story, but that seems to be a really popular trend in YA right now (along with dystopian settings and kids with cancer). And not only does this one tell the story from Alice and Harvey's perspective, but it also does it in present day and past tense, so it really bounces around. But it wasn't horrible, it suits the story's needs.
If you read reviews of the book on Goodreads or Amazon, a lot of the lower ratings come from how people react to Alice. I get it- she's not an easy one to love. But I also think that people are spoiled by other books that are about kids with cancer. They get moody, but they're still astoundingly optimistic and cherishing every moment. Alice isn't really like that- shes ready to get her hate on before she goes. I like that this character isn't sunshine all the time- she's sixteen, already has a bit of an attitude, and then finds out that she's going to die. I wouldn't handle that very well either. And she does fix things with Harvey, because that gets pretty bent out of shape too.
I recommend this book to anyone that likes humor with a dark side, needs a bit of a cry, and doesn't mind some mild swearing.
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