Friday, February 28, 2014

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Series: n/a
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Source: from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.



WARNING: Side Effects May Vary may cause severe emotional distress. While reading this novel, you may experience the temptation to throw the book in a fit of frustration. You may also suffer from extreme mood swings, sighing contentedly one moment while screaming your outrage the next. Please consult a physician if these symptoms persist after you turn the last page of the novel.

Julie Murphy isn't pulling any punches with her debut novel. If her intention was to make her readers feel all the things, then I say she has more than succeeded with Side Effects May Vary. Alice is diagnosed with leukemia and spends the next year wreaking havoc on the lives of those who've wronged her over the last few years as she waits for her time to run out. But miracle of miracles, she goes into remission...and then she has to answer for everything she's done over the last year: to those she's wounded but also to Harvey, the best friend who stood by her and helped her complete her bucket list of revenge.

Harvey's always been there for Alice, harboring a crush of epic proportions. She uses and abuses the poor guy, and for years, he's allowed it with little complaint, hoping that one day she might return his feelings. But when Al's diagnosed with cancer, everything changes between them. Told in alternating perspectives -- through her eyes and his -- during the year of her diagnosis and then after her remission, this story recounts the progression of Alice and Harvey's relationship and how it got to the point that it's at now. And if you're anything like me, it is going to drive you nuts, the back-and-forth between these two, but it is so worth the pain to see it through to the end.

It's not just about relationship drama, though that is a driving force in this novel. It's about having your life handed back to you -- after being told that you had an expiration date that was drawing nearer -- and the psychological toll that can have on a person. It's about revenge and making amends and taking risks. This story was as crushing as it was complicated, but it was also heartfelt and genuine. I tried to keep in mind what all Alice had been through and how that might change a person, and that helped me avoid writing her character off completely, even when she probably deserved it.

Harvey, though...Harvey was the saving grace of this novel. He started out as this lovelorn puppy dog when we first meet him, but everything that has happened to Alice has taken a toll on him, as well, and I'm glad that although he finally grew a pair and made some demands of his own, he still remained that sweet, hopeful boy. I loved the emotional impact of this novel as much as I did the romantic aspects.

I am so ecstatic to report that this book turned out even better than I'd hoped. It is rife with the feels, but don't expect a TFiOS meltdown. Many readers will find Alice completely unlikable, eliciting feelings of rage as opposed to the deep sadness that Hazel Graze evoked. But I think the unflappable Harvey will more than make up for it. And if you give Al a chance, you just might find yourself empathizing with her, too.

GIF it to me straight:




About the author:

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.

Find Julie:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube | Tumblr


17 comments:

  1. I like the sound of Harvey! I just read a negative review of this tonight as well, sooo...I'm worried! It's next on my TBR and gosh, I'm sick of frustrating characters. *headdesk* I don't want to be throwing books across the room (I've tossed quite a few this month) BUT STILL. I am rather excited, because, well, you're giving this 5-stars, so therefore I shouldn't be too worried, lol!! XD

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    1. Honestly, this is one of those polarizing novels...you'll probably either love it or hate it, and it mostly hinges on the main character's attitude and actions. She makes it hard to like her, but a lot of it's fear-induced, and considering what she's been through, I found it all rather understandable. I don't think I'd be the nicest person if I knew I didn't have long to live, lol. I hope you're on the end of the spectrum that enjoys this novel, Cait!

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  2. I just finished reading another review before this one , and she didn't like the book at all. I think this one may be a hit or miss, love or like kind of book. I haven't read it yet, still debating. Harvey may just make it worth it for me to give it chance. great review.

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    1. A lot of people haven't liked it. *shrugs* I like when an author can start out making me detest a character only to empathize with them in the end. This is definitely going to be a love it or hate it book for most readers, that's for sure.

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  3. Hah, I love your warning! I was thinking on starting this one when I finish the book I'm reading now, and after reading your review, I'm doffinitely going to start Side Effect May Vary. It sounds like a really emotional read, but yet sweet. Sounds like the author did a good job. Great review!

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    1. Hehe, thanks. :) It was an emotional read but totally not the kind of emotions you'd expect from a "cancer" book. It works for the story, though.

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  4. Thanks girl. Great review. I was unsure of this one now I will def read it

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  5. I have been looking forward to reading this, and I love how Julie sounds not-quite-angelic. I think I could get behind a character like this, because I'm sure my own bucket list would include some nice things as well as some not so nice things. I've only read a handful reviews for this book, but if other people don't like it because a cancer-stricken isn't being nice...well, I think I could excuse her for that!

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

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    1. See, I felt the same way...I don't think I would have reacted very well being given an expiration date at such a young age. Hell, I wouldn't react very well *now*. :P So, although Alice wasn't exactly likable, it was easy to understand where she was coming from.

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  6. Gosh, I've read such mixed reactions to this book, and the negative ones make me think it's one I really, really won't like. :/ Not sure yet if I'll pick it up.

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  7. I've heard such mixed reviews for this one, but - like you said - it sounds like this is going to be something you love or hate with a passion. I think I'm going to like it though because everything you've mentioned has a spot on my "hit" list, so that's good! I love how complex Alice sounds as a character. I mean, she's a real person! She's not going to be picture perfect, right?

    Anyways, thanks so much for sharing Jen, and as always, brilliant review! I think I'm definitely going to give this one a try! :D

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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  8. I skimmed because I have this one to read and review still, but I read that opening paragraph and I totally know what you mean! I've felt that way about some books and really wish I could reach in a strangle or yell at some characters. Lol! I'm glad that you loved it.

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  9. OH MY that review got me scared and excited and polarized. I don't know what to think and feel. I guess I just have to read it for myself (since I also got this for review). I'll come back and tell my thoughts later!

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  10. شركة كيان لنقل العفش بالرياض والمدينة المنورة وجدة ومكة والطائف والدمام تقديم لكم دليل كامل لشركات نقل العفش بالمملكة العربية السعودية
    نقل عفش شركة كيان
    دليل شركات نقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
    شركة نقل عفش بالطائف

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