Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

15728577 Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: March 18, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Length: 336 pages
Source: Balzer + Bray (ARC)

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?


If I was asked to describe this book in one word, it would be ANNOYING. While it wasn’t a flat out horrible book, Side Effects May Vary disappointed me. First of all, the writing style was very confusing. It’s told by our two main characters’ point of views: Harvey’s then and now point of view and Alice’s then and now point of view. What makes it more complicated is that there is no pattern; at times it will be “Harvey then” and then “Alice now” then “Alice now” and then “Harvey now” then “Harvey then” etc. It’s inconsistent and I sometimes I got the settings mixed up. I found myself confused whether or not I’m reading an event that happened in the past, or if that event is occurring in the present.

The biggest thing that bothered me in this book were the characters. I HATED them all except for Alice’s dad. First of all, Alice, our main character who has cancer, is a #$!%&. That is all. Throughout the book I just wanted to smack her face, and hope she trips over and hit herself at the edge of a table. Nah, that’s too mean. But yeah, she was so annoying, BUT she is MEANT to be like that because that’s just how her personality is. I also hate how she treats her BEST friend since fetus, Harvey. What I don’t like about Harvey is that he is letting himself be used by Alice! He’s such a push over! But what I love about him is that he really loves Alice, and saves her no matter how bad Alice treats him. There are other annoying characters in this book as I mentioned, but these two are the ones who got on my nerves the most.

What I also did not like was the romance. Oh gosh. It’s basically like this:

Harvey: I love you, Alice!
Alice: I love you too, but we can’t be together even if our parents are rooting for us!
Harvey: Okay *finds another girl*
Alice: You jerk! Why are you with her!? I love you! *finds a guy*
and you get the point.

What I did LOVE was the ending, and no guys, I did not love it because it ended hahaha, I loved it because there was this mystery and the pace finally picked up. I really like how the story wrapped up.

Overall, this book was more on how Harvey’s and Alice’s relationship evolved than how Alice’s go through cancer. Some people did love this book though, but I suggest you borrowing it from the library first if you want to read it.

4 Responses to “Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy”

  1. 1 Pamela D February 10, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Oh no! I am sad to hear that this book wasn’t very good. I know a lot of people were excited about this book. 😦

  2. 3 Hazel @ Stay Bookish February 11, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    So sorry to hear you were annoyed by this! Eeek, I was really looking forward to reading this one actually but by the way you described it, I was already getting annoyed at Alice! I still have to read and review this at some point because I got an eARC too but now, I’m not really dying to get on with this anymore. Thanks for the insightful review, Leigh!

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Well hello there! Thank you so much for stopping by. Little Book Star is a young adult book blog ran by Leigh, an 18 year old avid reader. This blog consists of book reviews, giveaways, author interviews, and more! Feel free to explore!

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