{Review} Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy


{Review} Side Effects May Vary by Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Harper Collins on March 18th 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA), Realistic Fiction (YA)
Pages: 336

Our Rating

3 Stars

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, who 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 archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). 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 caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?

This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.


Alrighty, another book that I feel so/so about. I’m starting to worry about this trend. But I didn’t dislike it for the same reason that other people seemed to dislike it.

Alice is a teenager, a rather unlikeable one too. She has a pretty typical life though, until she see’s something that devastates her, is betrayed by her boyfriend and then diagnosed with cancer.

After her diagnosis, she develops something of a “screw it. What have I got to lose?” attitude and comes up with a list of things she wants to complete before she dies. She enlists (manipulates) the help of Harvey, a boy she’s been friends with since they were children. He, of course, has been in love with her for just as long.

Some of the things on her list involve getting revenge on some people who may or may not deserve it. (I personally believe the ex-boyfriend got what he deserved but that’s just me) Not everything on her list is awful, some things are basic, like learning to drive and attending prom. Harvey is right there for all of it and falling even more in love with her.

Just when Alice seems to have only days left, her doctor tells her she’s in remission. Most people would be thrilled but Alice is horrified. She now has to live with all the crap she pulled and all the things she promised Harvey. She immediately pulls away from Harvey and acts like a total brat to everyone around her.

She can’t seem to let Harvey go though and she might not be able to fix things.

So like I said, I didn’t dislike this book for the same reason as most people. Alice being unlikeable didn’t bother me. Granted, you kinda get the impression she wasn’t the nicest person before the cancer but I also can’t imagine having cancer as a teenager is all that great for the psyche. And then, after you’ve accepted death, to be told you’re going to live? I just feel like she had a lot on her plate so her being a total witch wasn’t all that unexpected.

The reason I wasn’t too thrilled with this book was the constant back and forth from cancer time to remission time in Alice and Harvey’s POVs. It was a bit all over the place. I felt that the pranks on her list were WAY out there. Over-the-top and not all that believable. Plus Harvey was kind of well…boring. He was also a TOTAL DOORMAT. Alice bats her eyelashes and he basically bows and calls her master (not literally).

The parents aren’t around much, just mentioned here and there. Alice has some resentment against her mom, with some good reason. They didn’t feel like important parts of the story.

Alice does sorta has some character growth but the book just wasn’t that exciting and I put it down several times. It wasn’t awful, it’s just in the “meh” range. If you can’t handle unlikable characters, I suggest skipping this one.


About Julie Murphy

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.

Author: punkfarie

punkfarie lives in a virtual house of books, where she visits lands filled with knights and princesses and fairies and witches and dragons, and her best friends are vampires and zombies. Find more of her reviews at Punk's House of Books.

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