By: Celine | March 24, 2014 | (33) Comments

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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?

I went into Side Effects May Vary with low expectations. I’d heard several people say that Alice was completely unlikable, that Alice and Harvey’s relationship was unhealthy, and that this was an all-around disappointing book. I guess you can see why my expectations were low. In spite of this, though, or maybe because of it, I found myself really enjoying Side Effects May Vary.

Now, I’m not saying this book is without flaws. Absolutely not. People were right when they told me that Alice is a bitch. She is. She manipulates and uses people, feels sorry only for herself and never for others, and has a complete hot-and-cold personality. Still, I found myself liking her. Not liking her in a “I want to be friends with her” way, but in the way you like Courtney Summer’s protagonists: this girl is a complete bitch, but I love her anyway. And I’m glad to report that she does change. Not for a good part of the novel, but we do get to see glimpses of a nicer and compassionate Alice. At the end of the novel, she finally, finally realizes that she can do better in life.

Where this book surprised me was the romance. I’d expected Side Effects May Vary to revolve around the people Alice’d done wrong and the way she has to resolve it, but this book really is about the romance. Normally I throw a fit when a book is so romance-centered, but in a way, it works. It all depends on how you perceive the romance. To me, the dynamic between Alice and Harvey was a metaphor for the different relationships Alice had with different people. She has to come to terms with herself and with those around her. The way she treats Harvey is the way she treats everyone: she’s a complete bitch most of the time, but ever so slowly we get to see remorse seeping in. All the revelations she had when it came to Harvey were related to the other people in her life. So while this book was mainly about Alice/Harvey, I think it stood for everyone else in her life.

Your enjoyment of this novel does probably hinge on what you think of Alice + Harvey. If you think their dynamic is completely off and that it’s an unhealthy relationship, you probably won’t enjoy Side Effects May Vary very much. And I definitely can see why people would think so. Alice bosses Harvey around like she does anyone – she hardly asks for his side of the story and rather just demands several things of him. I have to admit, when I put it like that, it does sound unhealthy. In reality, though, I did ship Alice and Harvey. Yes, she uses him, and yes, she’s a complete bitch to him. He realizes this, but he’s a total softy and cares for her anyway. I could feel their dynamic and understand the attarction they felt, and something just clicked. Normally, I would have probably hated a relationship like this, but in Side Effects May Vary, it just worked for me.

Side Effects May Vary is a very fast read. Now, I did have to do some speed reading because I accidentally wrote down that this would be published in May, not in March, but Side Effects May Vary made it very easy to do said speed reading. It’s full of drama and everything about this novel just made it very easy to get sucked into the story and keep on reading!

In all, I really enjoyed Side Effects May Vary. In spite of its many flaws, Side Effects May Vary sucked me in and didn’t let go until I’d finished. This is the story of a broken girl – a complete and utter bitch – who slowly starts to realize her wrongs and has to make them right.

 ~Thank you Blazer & Bray for sending me a copy!~

3.5 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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33 Responses to Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

  1. Siiri says:

    I’m glad that Alice really has room to grow and there is a possibility of a redemption. “To me, the dynamic between Alice and Harvey was a metaphor for the different relationships Alice had with different people. She has to come to terms with herself and with those around her.” That’s a pretty thought! I can’t wait to read this book, because even though lots of my friends weren’t.. exactly amazed by this book, I feel like this could be a nice change for me. Haha, speed reading? Good to know it’s easy to get into and reads quickly:) I’m glad you enjoyed as a whole:) Great review, Celine!
    Siiri recently posted…Mini-reviews: Until Fountain Bridge and Castle Hill by Samantha YoungMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I’m really curious on which side you’ll fall! Like Alice, this book isn’t exactly flawless, but I found it to be really likeable nontheless.

      Thank you!

  2. Great review Celine, I’m glad you ended up enjoying it because you were already aware of the flaws.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover Review: A Musical, Lyrical RomanceMy Profile

  3. I totally thought Alice was a bitch and I didn’t like how much Harvey liked her either but I still loved this book a lot! I really loved how both Alice and Harvey grew and developed together. It was all really sweet by the end and a really unique concept! I’m so glad you liked it. Amazing review! 😀
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #31: Maybe MaybeMy Profile

  4. Eh, I’m one of the ones who couldn’t stand this book. >.< I had really high expectations for it too…and I thought the writing was brilliant (I even liked the back-and-forth thing) Buuut, I just felt the relationship was SO unhealthy. I couldn't ship them at all, and that kind of bogged me down. Still. I'm glad you liked it! Nothing worse than reviewing a book you don't like anyway, eh? 😉
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Unhinged by A.G. Howard (I still love the moth)My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Well, I can totally see where you’re coming from! I’m actually sort of surprised I liked it this much, haha.

      the only thing worse than reviewing a book you hated to me is reviewing a book you just felt so “meh” about. I never know what to say! At least I can rant when I read a book I didn’t like, LOL.

  5. Going in to read a book with low expectations is the best. I’m happy you enjoyed and give it try even though there’s many negative reviews out there.
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas ReviewMy Profile

  6. I got this one for review and decided not to read it because of all the negative reviews. I’m glad that you enjoyed it, Celine. I tend to struggle with bitchy main characters, so I don’t think this would be my kind of book. At least she grows though.
    Great review!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : The Edge of Falling by Rebecca SerleMy Profile

  7. Candace says:

    I’ve been curious about this and haven’t really seen many reviews myself. I think I might have to give it a try eventually but I’m not going to rush out to get it.
    Candace recently posted…Young Adult Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava DellairaMy Profile

  8. Jasprit says:

    I know what you mean Celine, the reviews that I’ve read for this book have been really disappointing, which is a real shame, as I did have real high hopes for this book. But I’m glad to see that despite some issues, you were able to enjoy this book overall. I will hopefully be starting my copy tomorrow! Lovely review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Unsticky by Sarra ManningMy Profile

  9. Tanja says:

    It’s so amazing when you get into a book not expecting much at all and you end up enjoying it. I know what are you saying for bitchy main characters. I hate them most of the time, but you’re right Courtney Summers really capture them and I’m glad that Alice was that way too. Great review, Celine 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Mini-reviews: Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

  10. I’ve been eyeing this book and wants to read it. Thanks for your honest opinion on it, glad it was a fast read, and the story sucked you in. Awesome review, Celine!
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Interview + Book Review 147 : The Swan & the Jackal (In the Company of Killers #3) by J.A. RedmerskiMy Profile

  11. I’m glad that you enjoyed this one! I was one of those people who wasn’t a really big fan of this book, but I can see where some people really enjoy this one, and it really does depend on how you view Alice’s attitude and the whole relationship. I thought Harvey was kind of a pushover, but he really was a total sweetie. Fantastic review, Celine! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…DNF Review: Sekret by Lindsay SmithMy Profile

  12. Joanna says:

    It seems like nobody can write a review for this book without saying “bitch” xD I’m ashamed to admit I’m one of them, but like you, I loved her anyways. I could see where she was coming from and somehow I could relate to her. Did I hate how she treated Harvey? OF COURSE. I didn’t make the connection as far as their relationship standing for every relationship she has… But I think I see it. Especially because she’s so back-and-forth with him. Yeah, maybe it’s not healthy. But there’s something I liked about it, too. I don’t know if I was shipping them so much as wondering when the hell Alice would realize the obvious xD I’m so glad you liked it though. I’m not the only one who appreciated Alice trying to redeem herself! 😀
    Joanna recently posted…Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy [Tour Stop and Giveaway]My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, well, I really can’t think of any other way to describe Alice 😛 And I had the same thing with the relationship! It was like, I could see that maybe it wasn’t the healthiest relationship, but I did really like them together.

  13. I’ve definitely heard some negative things about this one, but it’s great that Alice does grow!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Review: Batgirl/Robin Year OneMy Profile

  14. LOVE when different perspectives of books are given. I’ve been reading all the negative reviews as well, and it’s nice to see a change 🙂 I’d probably pick it up in a library just based on the description.
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: things on my bookish bucket listMy Profile

  15. Oh boy, I’m very happy to see your review! I was so hesitant about starting this one that I keep pushing it down on my review pile. After reading your review and seeing that you did end up enjoying it, despite the main character being hateable, really gives me a push to read it after all. Thanks for the review! 🙂
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Audiobook Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen HooverMy Profile

  16. Lexa Cain says:

    Wow. Writing an unlikeable character is a hard row to hoe. If the character isn’t completely adorable and admirable, I spend the book thinking up grotesque deaths and wishing they’d happen to the character. And as a horror writer, let me tell you I can come up with A LOT of grotesque deaths! lol I enjoyed reading the review and I’m glad you liked the book. 🙂
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Hauntings & CelebrateMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I can see where you’re coming from! I don’t think I would want to be one of your characters, when I hear you saying this, LOL. I personally quite like a flawed and not always admirable heroine, but I do understand why you would not 🙂

      Thank you!

  17. lily says:

    I really don’t know about this book since i’ve heard from so many people that the MC is a real bitch and i need to connect one way or another with my MC’s or i dont end up liking the book. i think this one is a pass for me since i can’t stand reading about unhealthy relationships LIKE AT ALL.
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog
    lily recently posted…Maybe, Someday: ReviewMy Profile

  18. Melliane says:

    I confess that I saw some mixed reviews about this one and now I’m also a little meh… sp I’m not sure.
    Melliane recently posted…Living the Vida Lola by Misa RamirezMy Profile

  19. Ritania says:

    You sound almost eatlxcy like me. I don’t have many perfumes because it irritates me nose & throat but I love marc jacobs (I alo have eau so fresh) & I’m very picky when it comes to handbags (I like my shoes more) & I also took my portable charger everywhere when I picked one up in Thailand last year. Until I upgraded & it doesn’t fit the iPhone fiver 🙁 I love the Laduree packet. It’s so cute.

  20. Hey, you’re the goto expert. Thanks for hanging out here.

  21. y a t-il encore une valeur mondiale ? ce prix nobel ? il est plutot politique manipule par des anciennes puissances occidentales en declin. Moi, depuis qu’un certain dllm, ancien maitre des esclaves etait nomme prix nobel de la paix, je ne crois plus a ce jeu des prix nobel.

  22. His cake is four times as big as mine.It’s going too far.I am a football fan.The secret was spread among the crowd.she has been cranky all day.I go to school by bike every day.I go to school by bike every day.No way!A wet road is usually slippery.How did the game turn out?

  23. Pues yo tengo una hija pequeña y pensamos educarla en todas esas cosas que parecen no estar de moda, como el respeto a los demás, ganarte las cosas, etc.Desde luego, lo que me daría un pasmo muy malo es que acabara siendo concursante de GH, tertuliana de Crónicas o cualquier otro tipo de “profesión” friki.En otro orden de cosas, vuestra web es de lo mejor que me he encontrado por ahí.

  24. wow, awesome post, I was wondering the same thing. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. bookmarked and also signed up your rss. keep us updated.

  25. to say but I am campaigning for Ron Paul right now I don’t have sign waves I am hitting my county finding undecided voters for primary. I do hope all of you young people realize how IMPORTANT it is to do that for Ron Paul. PLEASE PLEASE ! Go volunteer to your county coordinator. We need you!!! I am one and I cannot find anyone to help with phone calls. Push cards location of undecided voters all that takes to win elections!!! GO TO YOUR LOCAL GOP MEETINGS !!! PLEASE GET OFF COMPUTER FOR

  26. I love all the gorgeous layered hair cuts and razor angle cuts and I can’t have one! My hair is so curly and wild I have to grow it long to give it a little weight.You look amazing in you headshot photo. That cut is perfect for your face shape and hair texture. If I thought I would look like that-I’d get my hair cut today!XXOO KatPS did you buy the Coach bag? I hope so, show us what you got! lol

  27. The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.

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