Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

From Goodreads: 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? 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I saw the synopsis for Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of the book because I thought it sounded like a fun read, with a girl trying to right her mistakes and falling in love with her best friend. I wasn’t even close!

Instead, Side Effects May Vary features one of the meanest, bitchiest characters I’ve ever encountered! One character in the novel accurately describes Alice as “… hollow on the inside … Rotten too. (88% on my Kindle)” At no point in the book does it say that the chance for remission isn’t high, but Alice accepts the news that she has cancer like a death sentence and takes full advantage of it to do whatever the hell she wants. This makes it hard to sympathize with her, particularly since she shows little growth throughout the novel and continues to manipulate her best friend, Harvey, even after remission.

The alternating narrations are provided by Harvey, who I pitied. He’s very aware that Alice is using him, but still helps her with her revenge schemes because he loves her. Since I loathed Alice, I needed Harvey to explain how and why he has been in love with her for years. Unfortunately, a concrete explanation never materialized. Harvey does eventually stand up to Alice, but it takes way too long for him to develop a backbone!

A novel that ended very abruptly – I would have thought there were pages missing if I wasn’t reading it on my Kindle – and left me in an angry mood, Side Effects May Vary was released by Balzer + Bray on March 18, 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s simple but unique, and stands out easily. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.     


  1. Yeah I would have DNFed this one, Z and I don't do that very often but a horrible character with no redemption is one that I can't stand. Sorry this wasn't the book you expected to read and like. Hope your next one is much better.

  2. Your review pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly. My own review was a little bit more ranty but same idea ;) I wouldn't have minded this one being longer if the ending was better and Alice could have maybe redeemed herself.

  3. Actually, the second I read the synopsis, I knew I'd better stay away. It's just not my kind of thing, even well-written and interesting, AND with sympathetic characters. As it is, I'm jst lucky I wasn't even tempted.
    Great review.

  4. I can't deal with bitchy characters. Or, if they do start out as bitchy, then they better change for the better over the course of the novel. Like you say, how are you supposed to sympathize and relate to such a character? I'll be staying away from this one now, for sure. Thanks for the review!

  5. This one left Kim feeling pretty frustrated, too--it's a shame. I haven't gotten all that far in my own reading, and I'm not sure if I'll be continuing. Sorry you were disappointed, Z.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  6. I think I am going to skip this one. I don't like characters who are so unapologetic about their bad behaviour. I think I will skip this one. It would just put me in a bad mood if I were to read it.


  7. Oh Z, I'm super sad about this book! Not because it's a sad story but because it's so disappointing! It's my most anticipated 2014 release and I can't get past 30%!! I've been there since 2 months ago! I want to finish it but I just can't. I've given up on it. :(


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