Kid reviews for Side Effects May Vary

Side Effects May Vary Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 14+

Based on our expert review

Parents say

No reviews yet.

Add your rating

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 5 reviews

age 15+

Side Effects May Very

Side Effects May Vary is promoted as a teen going through her bucket list after she is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and, certain she will die, she doesn’t worry about the consequences to her actions. Then to her surprise, she unexpectedly enters remission and has to figure out how to live with reality again. I expected to see some interesting hijinks and the type of rash impulsive behavior we all sneakily wish we could indulge in, followed by trying to handle a real-life, not-so-shiny fallout. I don’t exactly read a lot of books relating to cancer, but this one sounded different. Less on cancer, more on what one girl did after she found out she had cancer and has to deal with it when she finds out she’s in remission? That sounded as if she was ticking off items on her "Guide to Getting the Last Word Before You Die." That’s partially what the novel was, but it went in unexpected directions too. Directions I’m not sure I liked. The female lead Alice will make or break this book for you; everything centers around her, including every chapter from male lead, Harvey’s, point of view. If you hate her and think her character arc is poorly written, you’re going to hate this book; similarly, you’re going to enjoy this book if you love her character. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about Alice. She’s awful to the point where you no longer understand her, but toward the end, she starts becoming human again. My indecision about how I feel about her character is probably why this novel is a mixed bag for me. The protagonist Alice is very much manipulative, abusive, and flat-out mean. When she’s diagnosed with cancer, the promised “consequence-free” living is just her using cancer as an excuse to dial all those qualities up to eleven. Now, unlikeable characters are not at all a hard sell for me; particularly an unlikeable cancer patient, which plays against stereotype so beautifully. But an abuser and bully is a much harder type of “unlikeable” to root for and standby. As much as I want to get into Alice’s story; to see what she did when she thought she was going to die, what she’s going to do now that she’s going to live again, and how Harvey is tied up in this mess–it’s hard to get involved with such an inconsistent narration. There is no pattern to the switches from past to present or, more importantly from Alice to Harvey, you might be reading a “now” chapter where Alice is trying to avoid making up for something she did one chapter and the next, we’re with Harvey in the past as he struggles to deal with Alice’s diagnosis and what she wants him to do for her. There were a few other places I felt were completely out of sync with the narrative as a whole for example; though the book succeeds so excellently in not stereotyping cancer patients, it fails by falling into the tired trope of almost all catty mean girl portrayals. When Alice’s ex-boyfriend is trying to pressure her into sex, despite the narrative wanting us to see him as a jerk, his sexual pressuring is never framed as evidence of his poor character. I felt I was much more horrified at his actions in that case than the book was intending me to be. Combine this with Alice repeatedly thinking of all other girls as whores, or with Alice’s choices to mock people about their weight, slut-shame people, or use their confusion over sexual orientation as means for humiliation; I couldn’t help feeling like Side Effects May Vary was reinforcing damaging attitudes about teenage girls, rape culture, queerness, and abuse. Overall I would not recommend this book because; it romanticizes habits that are in other words unhealthy and this book makes no sense, meaning the book is all over the place, and for lack of better words sloppy.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 12+

MUSTREAD

great book. some inappropriate. mostly good

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 12+

MUSTREAD

great book. some inappropriate. mostly good

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 12+

MUSTREAD

great book. some inappropriate. mostly good

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 13+

Side Effects May Vary: Is it Any Good?

I think this book is another on the bandwagon of the new popular cancer theme. The plot could be interesting if done properly, but the writing was quite boring. It also has bad life messages with the main character greedily seeking revenge. Do not recommend!