Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary (AKA, I actually liked it.)

Side Effects May Vary

Publication Date: March 18th 2014        
~A copy was provided by Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review~



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.

Oh wow. Like the story, my thoughts are kind of a mess right now. It's just- wow. To be honest, I was kind of expecting a happier version of The Fault in Our Stars, but whoa. So. Not. It's just as great in a completely different way (this is why I hate comparing books) but the feel is way different.
It's actually kind of hard to know what to feel about it. I think it'll be the type of book you'll either hate or love, and no between, because I'm not going to lie, it is a hard one to like. You kind of have to go beyond that to scratch beneath the surface.

Though it's told through two different perspectives, and in two different times Then and Now, and on top of that, not in any chronological order, I thought I'd never say this:
It was so easy to follow.
That type of sequence usually annoys the hell out of me, but it didn't.  the tone is different in Then and Now, so It had me right from the off and kept me reading right until the end.
The characters are complex and just like the romance messy, complicated and unhealthy for one another, and sometimes downright immoral and crazy, the hold Alice has on Harvey is really quite disturbing.
I'm going to be honest, and seriously, let's all be honest, Alice was a bitch. But sometimes she was a nice bitch, but she'd flip between the two so often it was hard to like her. Somewhere along the way though, between the 'it was hard to like her', I found that I did like her. Or maybe not like her, but I understood her, and it made it easier. Behind all the bravado and somewhat fearless attitude, she is scared. Of what she can do, of her feelings, and all that hate, and the hold of the secret that resonates that hate, is killing her.
But she's real. And I don't know how Julie Murphy done it, but while she might be unlikeable, she's relatable, and that one horrible scene where everything is flipped up,  I really felt angry for her, because what Alice did, while you know, was bad, was nothing compared to what they done to her. It's completely wrong and disgusting.
You know when you've been away for a while and come home and your dog follows you everywhere...hey Harvey! Okay, that's kind of mean, and he eventually grew a backbone for a bit, but he's sickeningly in love with Alice and the romance between them was like I said, messy and complicated.
I did enjoy it though, even if it was hard to in some places, and even though I was okay with the ending, I would've like a little just kind of cut off abruptly. ,
While Side Effect's May Vary may not be the easiest to get into, but once you are it's crazy addictive, with flawed but realistic characters. Be careful while reading, because you know, Side Effect's May Vary.
I'm sorry.

Rating: 4/5