Side Effects May Vary [Book Review]

Book Reviews

15728577 I refrain from writing negative reviews because who really wants to read my not-so-nice words? No one, and I certainly don’t like to write that way. Now, how do I write a review about a book that I love/notloved equally? How do I explain how much I disliked the main character and even though she is diagnosed with leukaemia, I had zero sympathy for her, and yet I cried many times throughout the novel?

Side Effects May Vary is very much The Fault in Our Stars meets something (not quite sure what) but it has more of an edge. It’s a “lyrical novel about a girl with cancer who creates a take-no-prisoners bucket list that sets off a war at school—only to discover she’s gone into remission”. The trouble I had with this novel was Alice, she hates the world too much, she too selfish and bitter, and although I understand why she feels that way, I feel like she’s a tad too cruel. What compensates for her is Harvey, the boy she’s known since forever. The boy who always looks for the good and who believes in life. The boy who does anything and everything for Alice, no questions asked. The boy who thinks Alice, with all of her many many faults, is the most beautiful girl in the world. He is quite literally the only thing that balances Alice and he helps the reader see Alice in a different light.

While I didn’t love how each chapter went from then to now and back to then and maybe back to then before going back to now, I did appreciate that you hear both Alice’s and Harvey’s side of the story. It made it easier to understand them both, to relate to them, and it made me want to keep reading. Obviously I have mixed feelings about this book, so I would LOVE to hear what you think about it. It comes out March 18, 2014 — let me know what you think in the comments.

For more information and pre-order details, visit HarperCollins Canada here!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I was sent an ARC of Side Effects May Vary in exchange for an honest review.
Photo Credit: Goodreads 

Creeps [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Lifestyle/Personal

When a copy of Creeps by Darren Hynes showed up in my mailbox I was ecstatic! I love YA novels, particularly ones that are REAL or depict high school in a true light. Creeps is The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Fault in Our Stars meets Invisible — three books that I love dearly, so you can only imagine how I feel about this one.


Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?

Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.

Creeps is a tough book to read, in that it hurts you your heart. For a fifteen-year-old kid to feel so helpless and so alone, to be picked on to the point insanity, whose only comfort is writing un-sent letters, your heart bleeds for this child. The language, scenes, and bullying leave very little room for imagination. They are what they are and there’s no sugar-coating it. Some kids go through hell in high school and this novel is a testament to that. It’s an eye-opener for anyone who doesn’t believe that there are real bullies out there. Bullying seems to be worse now than when I was in high school. It’s harder to ft in, it’s harder to stand out, it’s harder to be accepted.

…I’ll take the job anyway because it’s good to have somewhere to go and something to do and someone other than the wall to look at and say stuff to.” (Page 59)

Wayne, is a character I won’t soon forget, he is everything I was in high school. The kind of kid who likes the quiet, who writes instead of speaks, who knows that the day will come when he or she has to get LOUD, has to stand up for his or herself. His words and his letters will stick with me for a long time. His fears and his insecurities are things that I would never wish upon anyone. He is a great character that can teach readers many things. He can teach you by showing you. He shows you that we all have problems, even if we try to keep them inside. He shows you what it is to be brave in ‘silly’ little ways. He shows you that you’re not as alone as you think you are. He shows you how big of a difference one person can make.

…he wonders how it could be that yesterday he felt so young but now feels like a man and it occurs to him that something begins at the same time something ends, so he’ll always be in motion, moving towards and away from things.” (Page 180)

With his raw and sincere writing style, Darren Hynes has crafted a book that should be on the TO READ list of every ninth-grader.

Creeps will have you turning pages, shedding tears, and hoping for the best possible ending, because Wayne deserves it.


Love Always

Vanessa Xo