Review: Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy

May 10, 2014 Reviews 3

Review: Side Effects May Vary, Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on 26 March 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

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?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.


I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads that I’m inundated with books I’m desperate to read, fantastic books for the most part as I’ve gotten better at reading between the lines of book blurbs and other reviews at sifting out books I will generally like.  What all these wonderful books and large to read piles mean its that I have very little patience for books that I’m not enjoying.  Unfortunately Side Effects May Vary is one of those books and after wasting a week procrastinating on and off reading this one and only getting to the half way mark, I’ve decided not to finish reading it.

My big issue with this book was how remarkably negative the entire reading experience was.  The topic was negative, the characters were all negative, nothing good seemed to happen, even Alice going into remission managed to be an unfulfilling downer of an experience.  This brings me to the character of Alice she was a horrible person, even for a “mean girl” she blew me away with how knowingly manipulative she was,  how she willing to use people and then cast them aside, it was incredibly painful to read and I seriously did not care what happened to her in the end at the point when I decided to stop.

The actual writing of this book was well done and it flowed well, I actually liked the alternating chapters between Alice and Harvey as well as the then and now aspect which gave the book a patchwork narration style that added to the build up.  It is a pity that the actual content just didn’t do it for me as I think Julie Murphy definitely has some talent and I will be interested in reading future books of hers which hopefully have a story that is less of a Debbie downer.

I’m sure this book will appeal to many people but for me I just think life is too short and there are just too many good books to waste time on something that I’m not enjoying!

zero-stars – Did not finish – not willing to waste my valuable reading time on something so negative


Email | Goodreads | | Twitter | Instagram Philippa lives in Brisbane, Australia with her partner and two daughters. She is an avid reader and reviewer of Young Adult literature as well as being a student midwife, closet geek, procrastibaker and coffee addict.

3 Responses to “Review: Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy”

  1. Kate @ Fictional Thoughts

    This is the type of review which strengthens my believe that Did Not Finish reviews add value. I’m sorry to see that this book didn’t work for you but I love that you managed to pin point what worked for you and what didn’t. Great review, Philippa. 🙂

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