Book review: Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: Side Effects May Vary

Author: Julie Murphy

Goodreads link

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction

**mild spoiler alert**

No. No. No. Just. No! That is not how the story should end. Ugh! I am so angry with this book. This was suppose to be a book that I liked and enjoyed, and I did enjoy this book for a moment, until it ends. Okay, I need to calm down before I proceed further.


The book focused on two of the main characters (even though at times it felt like there’s only Alice and not enough Harvey), and it goes back and forth during before and after Alice’s remission. Interesting way of telling a story and I definitely liked it, until I stumble upon the characters’ trait and I kid you f not, I can’t. I. Just. Can’t. I. Can’t. For. The. Life. Of. Me. Sympathise and/or liked any of the other characters, except for Dennis (which sadly was just a condiment to the story).

I don’t understand why some people dissed on YA a lot, for me YA is actually a pretty interesting genre. But, then I read this book and now I sort of understand why YA is not everyone’s cup of tea and they tend to dissed on YA; there’s too much repetitive formula in almost every YA I’ve read so far and I am getting sick of it! There’s always this character who is so in love with the other character and they would practically defy all logic and rationalities to do whatever it takes to proof its undying love, even if every single thing that they did is extremely stupid. I am so done with that idea! So, f done! Get a different angle, please! For the love of everything holy, get a different angle!

Okay, so you’re in love and of course love sometimes defy all logic, but, really? You’re willing to do anything, as if you’re on a leash and you’re willing to submit all your free will to be controlled by someone else in the name of love? Really? Really? Really? Ugh! Nope! Nope! I’m done with that. I can’t. I just can’t, okay?

Now, I may be angry about that aspect but it’s not to say that I don’t like the story. I liked the story very much. Most people focuses a lot on how cancer affects the people with the cancer and the people  around them, or how their death marks the ending of a story, but whatever happens when suddenly you’re in remission? The life that you though was ending, suddenly seems like it still holds its mystery for you to experience. It is definitely interesting, especially as it focuses on the repercussion of your acts. Although the characters are definitely not my favourite characters ever, I can understand where does things comes from for the characters. I get why Alice was so bitter and hung on a lot on getting revenge; I get why Harvey  is in love with Alice (wait, no, I DON’T F GET IT WHY HARVEY COULD POSSIBLY BE CRAZY IN F LOVE WITH ALICE!!!). It’s one thing to have a crush on your childhood friend and believe it to be love, but it’s another thing to be so infatuated that it seems like she is the centre of your f universe. Ugh!

One thing that I liked about this book is that nothing is predictable (well, at least to me). You know from the very beginning that Alice would be in remission (nope, this should not be a spoiler for you, it’s already plastered everywhere if ever you stumble upon this book), but what you’re left to guess is what would happened next now that she’s in remission, and that is something that you could not guess how it ends. Speaking of the end, WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT? Harvey should know better than to follow his stupid hormonal self. Ugh! Major disappointment of an ending. I was almost applauding Harvey when he stand up to himself (more than once, might I add), only to come back to square one? Yeah, way to go, Harvey (except, NOT!).

Although Alice is far from what I would think of an inspiring main character, nor does Harvey, it was actually pretty interesting to see a character as vengeful as Alice and it was until the few last pages that she comes full circle and tries to be a better person. But, honest to God, I just could not bring myself like her, the same goes for Harvey and his stupid hormones. Surprisingly, I found a liking in Dennis; he portrayed a good sense of camaraderie, loyalty, caring, and an honest without expecting something in return kind of friendship.

The story as a whole is a very interesting story, the execution was enjoyable, but I have two major concerns that I cannot overlook. First, what is up with YA that has a character that seems to be an expert in movies and/or music? I am annoyed with that kind of portrayal; it’s always like that. Can’t we have a regular teenage characters that acts like a regular one, and not all pretentious with its interests whatsoever? Second, the Lake Quasipi scene? WTH? I get that it’s suppose to be the oldest amusement park and close to extinction, but, seriously? No form of securities whatsoever? Yeah, I don’t buy that.

Did I enjoy it?

At the end of the day, I did enjoy the story and especially the narration. As much as I don’t like both of the main characters, their narration was definitely enjoyable part to the story. But, then the ending of the story ruined the whole trip for me. I was so happy to see Harvey standing up to himself, and he made it seemed like there was no more turning back, he was more than ready to look into his future, and then he went back to square one. HARVEY!!! WTH?? So, no, I did not fully enjoy the book thanks to its ending.

Also, what is up with how demented Alice is? Halfway before the ending of the book, I felt like I was lead to believe that Alice was how she is because of what her mum did but, tell you what? I think Alice is a B– because she is a B–, even before whatever it is that her mum did in the beginning of the book. That was just a lame excuse people used to blame it on other people when we realise that we are nothing more than a disappointment but refused to be blamed for. Alice, grow the f up!


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