Sunday, March 16, 2014 16:03

Review 241. Julie Murphy – Side effects may vary.

15728577Title: Side effects may vary.
Author: Julie Murphy.
Pages: 336.
Expected publication date: March 18th 2014 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: Edelweiss & Publisher.
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 leukaemia, 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?
Rating:

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. There were things I liked (realistic portrayal of the disease) and things I disliked (Harvey’s blind admiration and Alice’s unlikable personality) In the end, I think it’s just a good book, but not one I would re-read or highly recommend.
You have to keep your mind with this book. It’s written with a constant switch between Alice-now, Alice-then, Harvey-now and Harvey-then. I thought the blend of now-then was well-done, but it also prevented me from connecting with the characters. I constantly had to pay attention to who and where I was and it distracted me from the real story. I think Alice-now and Alice-then would have been enough to create a good image of her story.

In the ‘then’ we read about Alice and how she is diagnosed with leukemia. She gives Harvey very mixed signals, because she likes him, but she is also afraid to keep him close. Her prognosis isn’t very good and it’s a confusing time for her. She decides to make a bucket list and this has consequences for the ‘now’ where she finds out that the cancer is almost gone. When you expect your future to be over soon, how do you deal with the fact that you are going to life after all? It’s an interesting thing to think about and I like how Murphy handled it.

I could understand Alice to a certain extent. Her confusions, the way she deals with the uncertainties and how she tries to stay strong. I’ve never been confronted with leukemia, but I felt it was a realistic way to describe someone’s feelings and the stages of emotions they go through. But, Alice wasn’t a likable character at the same time. She acts like a complete bitch, she uses Harvey when it comes in handy and I just didn’t like her overall personality. To say it bluntly: I could understand cancer-Alice, but I could never be friends with Alice-Alice – if that makes sense.


"You are hollow on the inside, Alice, did you know that? Rotten too. And no one cares. No one cares because you make it so difficult to. I should tell you to go on being rotten on the inside, but I can't because Harvey is so invested in you. Here's the sad truth: Harvey cares for you. He more than cares for you, and he still would even if you were as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside. Harvey, the on you string along mercilessly. Not some slob who wants you as arm candy, but Harvey. He loves you, and for whatever reason this transcendental devotion he has for you defies the law of science and love."
-Quote courtesy to my favorite character in the book, Debora.

Harvey was a dumb ass. His admiration and unconditional love for Alice was so hard to understand. He openly admits that he knows that Alice uses him, yet he continues to let her do it. I wanted him to stand up for himself and to grow a spine. I know that love sometimes works this way, but I never felt the chemistry or even feelings from Alice towards Harvey. For me, they were good friends with Alice being the one to profit from that friendship.

It was not a bad book, but like I said, I will not buy it, re-read it or highly recommend it. It might be because I’m not such a contemporary reader, but I missed having feelings (besides being annoyed.)

author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

33 comments:

  1. Hmmmm. Annoying characters are horrible in a book, so I don't know if this book will work out well for me. I did want to read it, but I have read a lot of negative or okayish reviews for this one. I do want to read this one, but I don't plan on buying the book when it comes out. Maybe from the library or from a friend. Thanks for the honest review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going to the library is definitely a good option!

      Delete
  2. The relationship with Harvey and Alice sounds annoying and just that fact alone would prevent me from picking this up. I usually avoid cancer books as well. I lost my mother to the disease and I don't like reading about it.

    Sorry this didn't work out for you Mel. Great honest review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very understandable! You're not missing out on this book :)

      Delete
  3. The Brittany gif is the perfect thing to express my feelings for Alice as well. I absolutely hated her as a character and she had almost no redeeming qualities. Plus it lacked a lot of emotion for me, I was too caught up in the character's attitudes to focus on the "message."

    ReplyDelete
  4. I still want to read this, though.

    ReplyDelete
  5. [ Smiles ] Very interesting reading material.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ahhh it's always hard to be able to get into a book when you find it difficult to connect with the characters when they're unlikeable. Blah. At least you still enjoyed the book somewhat though, which is always important. I think I'll probably still give it a go since I was really looking forward to this one.

    Great review Mel! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you'll like it better than I did Alice!

      Delete
  7. I think people are having mixed emotions with this one! I rated it very highly, but I can't say I really would want to reread it, aside from a few sections I marked. My rating came from how it made me think and what I admired about it, in that the depiction of cancer was realistic, like you said, and the realness of Alice's character. I think I'd recommend reading it, but I'd probably add the caveat that you're going to hate Alice and if you ever start liking her it won't be till the end. :)

    Great review Mel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always fun to have different opinions and I'm happy you ended up liking it more than I did :)

      Delete
  8. Heh, annoyance is not the feeling one wants to feel when reading. I'm not a big contemporary reader either and I can see myself becoming annoyed at the same things you were annoyed with, so I think I'll skip this one. Thanks for the enlightening review, Mel!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That quote--basically my favorite part of the book! I really disliked both Alice and Harvey, for the reasons you stated. I don't get all the love for Harvey. Like you said, he was a dumb ass. I did really like Julie Murphy's writing style, so at least we both found some things we liked about the novel! Lovely review, Mel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, yes, she was just SO right about Alice.

      Delete
  10. Definitely felt the same way about Alice! I could understand cancer-Alice but her personality was so grating and sigh, Harvey.

    YES DEBORA SPOKE THE TRUTH. I was so happy she was telling Harvey what he couldn't see and just telling his point-blank because he needed to hear it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was shipping Debora/Harvey so hard. It's a shame he was so stupid.

      Delete
  11. aww... that totally sucks!! I have really high hopes for this book, and I'm actually going to start it after I finish the book I'm currently reading! Thanks for your honest review Mel!
    - Farah

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aw. I hate what you say about the romance thing! Do not approve :( I don't like it when it is that way. Sigh. But anyway. Amazing review Mel. <3 Thank you for sharing and being honest :) I'm sorry you didn't love this one. (not really, lol. <3)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ooooh, it has those before after scenes, I'm not sure how I'll like this book! Great review Mel, honest opinions and I'll definitely give this a try! Ever since I picked this as my WoW so many reviews popped up since. Great gif too! *dances*

    Happy Reading!
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be interesting to see what you think about it :)!

      Delete
  14. I don't think you're the only one to have had issues with these characters in this book Melanie. It is a real shame, as I did have high hopes for this book, but there's only so much I can take when characters start to continually annoy you. Thank you for your honest review, here's hoping your next read is a lot more enjoyable!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I started this book, but ended up putting it down because of how much I disliked Alice. I'm still planning to finish it sometime soon, though! I love Harvey so far, but I agree with you about not liking how he blatantly seems to let Alice use him. Thanks for the great, honest review :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I heard a lot of bad things about Alice's personality so I am planning on skipping this one, I think. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I just don't know about this book anymore. I was so sure that I would read it at first but the more reviews I actually read, the less I want to. I know Ash liked it, but she is a lot more tolerant than me hah. I think I am going to put this one off for the forseeable future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's a good idea :) I wouldn't put it high on your TBR list.

      Delete
  18. When I read this book, I'd already given myself over to the idea that I wasn't going to like Alice, that I wouldn't be able to connect with her, and I think that made it easier reading for me. I like what you said here: "I could understand cancer-Alice, but I could never be friends with Alice-Alice". That about sums up my feelings, too, but I really liked the writing and the story in general and enjoyed the book a lot more than most I've seen. This is a great, honest review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think being aware of her personality definitely helps to enjoy the book more :)

      Delete
  19. I really struggled with this book too. But in hindsight, perhaps I was a little hard on JM - she actually nailed Borderline Personality Disorder to perfection. Which helps to explain my strong feelings - having someone on the edges of my life, wrecking Alice-like havoc, is enough to put anyone off!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think I also gave this one a low rating. I just could not understand the need of having Alice Now, Alice Then, Harvey Now, Alice Then. It just made the book worse since the characters were already getting on my nerves. Alice was just a b**** and Harvey although at times I liked him, I rolled my eyes since he's so blind. I will for sure not re-read this book and I don't highly recommend it either.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I really appreciate it and I will return the favor as soon as possible. Remember to return to see my reply! :)

Copyright © 2012 The Daily Prophecy
Template and Design by Hopeless Romantics
Subtle Patterns (Subtle Patterns) / CC BY-SA 3.0