Published by Harper Collins on March 18th 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Death & Dying, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel about a girl with cancer who creates a take-no-prisoners bucket list that sets off a war at school—only to discover she's gone into remission.When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she's said and done. Contemporary realistic-fiction readers who love romantic stories featuring strong heroines will find much to savor in this standout debut.
When Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she makes a list of everything that she has to do before she can no longer do it. With the help of Harvey, she completes her list—most of it—but then she goes into remission. Now, she has to live with her choices and the consequences of her actions. The only problem is that Alice knows how to die—she’s been doing it for over a year—but living is more complicated.
I feel kind of bad saying that I didn’t like the character that lived on a time budget, but Alice was not a well-liked person, in general. Although, while she did make unnecessary enemies, she embodied the girl drama and scheming that takes place in high school. Alice was the girl that every girl secretly can be, but instead of hiding, it she flaunted it. She had no pretenses and didn’t want to hide who she was to make others happy, which is why, in a weird way, she was relatable. Alice was a incredibly dense character, making it incredibly easy to hate her, because she broadcasted the human condition. By the end of the book, I wanted her to get her happy ending. She was a forceful reminder that not everything goes as planned and that sometimes life is as awful as we imagine it could be.
Harvey—oh, how I loved Harvey. Even when he was drunk on Alice and followed her around like a lost puppy, I yearned for the chapters that they were together because they were the best. Harvey was the boy next door, though not technically in this book, the best friend any girl could want, and the dependable one. Harvey, Harvey, Harvey—his name rolls off your tongue like silk. Out of all of the love interest that I’ve read or listened to lately, Harvey made my top ten. He is the reason that you’ll want to finish this book—his happy ending was really the one that I wanted (the entire time, not just the end).
The ending infuriated me. Seriously, I wanted to throw my phone out the window. I listened to Side Effects May Vary as an audiobook—hence, throwing my phone—but would probably have enjoyed it better if I had read a paper copy. I don’t listen to music when I drive, for those who haven’t figured out I listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car, and needed a good story for a long trip. This was a magnificent story of loss, betrayal, consequences, and brokenness, but I would have loved for the pages to have been between my fingers, especially for the ending. I almost couldn’t take listening to the last words, meaning it was one of those books that, if it had been in my hands, I would have been begging more pages to spontaneously appear. Good job, Julie Murphy.
This is a story of loss that will give John Green a run for his money.