Side Effects May Vary Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBarnes & NobleiTunesKindle

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.

After catching a glimpse of the really interesting and cute cover, I knew I had to get my hands on Side Effects May Vary. The premise sounded original, and sure enough I wasn't disappointed. I've heard many things about this novel, good and bad, and I'm glad that didn't affect my judgement on this book. While I did love the story and most of the characters, as well as the structure, there were just some things about this novel that I couldn't get into or enjoy. I will say though– Julie Murphy can WRITE, and beautifully at that.
I was super excited when I got the chance to be apart of this blog tour. I realised that after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I actually didn't know that much about cancer. Sad isn't it? Unfortunately, it's so widespread now days, but I barely know anything about it. I thought that this could possibly help with that, and I thought that the portrayal of Alice's struggle through cancer and her fight to live life to the fullest was so realistically depicted, and as a person who really doesn't know much about cancer, it really illuminated the different consequences it can have on a person.

Alice pushed me to the end of my tolerance for characters. I'm going to be honest: I've never been more frustrated or appalled by a character. I mean, she literally made me clench my jaw. There's annoying and then there's I-want-to-run-you-over-with-a-truck. Guess which one she was? I hated how her character constantly used Harvey over and over again, and she was clearly just looking for revenge. I was a little let down, because I thought that she would grow and understand her mistakes and so on, but nope. Her character is so static throughout the book, that it nearly pushed me over the edge.
Thank goodness for other characters though! Even though I thought his mooning over Alice was a little too much, I really loved Harvey's character. I wish that Dennis and Deborah's characters were more developed because I enjoyed their presence in the book so much. It was also interesting how the parents play into the story and how their actions and backstories, etc. all mingle with Alice's and Harvey's.

I liked the fragmented structure of the story, how it not only switched perspectives but also time periods, oscillating from "Then" and "Now". It lead to some confusion on my part, because I wasn't very good with keeping track of what was going on or when during the chronological sequence of events that certain scenes were taking place, but it was really unique to see the cause and effect of past actions into the present. It's certainly something that isn't very common in YA, and I thought it was very original on Murphy's part to include this.

Overall, while some parts nagged at me throughout the book, Side Effects May Vary has a gripping plot that teens and adults alike will find captivating from start to finish. Murphy's debut explores the emotional rollercoaster that is the teen years, filled with pain, love and heartbreak, and coming to terms with oneself. 

If you like this, try...

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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. 

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It's time for a giveaway!

Enter to win...

(1) Finished Copy of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy!


Enter in the Rafflecopter below!

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Click below to see the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

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Thanks so much to FFBC Tours for having me along!


  1. Glad you liked SEMV overall! We had mixed feelings on it here at WHYA, but we do all agree with you that Julie Murphy can *write* very well, and we're all super stoked to check out her next book DUMPLIN'.

  2. I don't know what the question of the day is listed in the rafflecopter, but I do want to say that this is such a different twist on the usual trope.

    It's interesting to see how she struggles now that she has her life back and the whole moral and ethical questions posed are interesting!!

    Lovely review :)

    Thank you :)


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