Saturday, September 6, 2014

Discussion Post #1 - Side Effects May Vary

Good evening my bookish cohorts! Are you ready for your first discussion post for Side Effects May Vary? I was really happy to see that there are quite a few of you joining us for both reads this month! I can't wait to see what you have to say.


Discussion Questions:

* You may have noticed that this book isn't broken up into chapters, persay. Rather, it switches between Alice and Harvey's POV and back and forth in time. What is your opinion on the way this story is told? Is it easy to follow? Would you prefer a single POV?

* Now that you've had some time to get to know Alice and Harvey a bit, what are your initial thoughts on them as characters? Is there one you identify with over the other?

* What do you think of Alice and Harvey's relationship?

* When Alice first finds out she's dying she decides it means she can live without consequence. Until, of course, she finds out she's actually in remission. What do you think of Alice's outlook on her disease? On her choice to live without consequence?


My Thoughts:

So, this is actually my second time reading through this book. The first time around I read it as an advanced copy, and I remember thinking about the POV. I'm still on the fence about it. On the one hand, getting to see from both Alice and Harvey's point of view is pretty fantastic. It's nice to see how each of them handle a particular topic, or event. I actually really like being in Harvey's mind. The one thing that threw me off, and still kind of does on this second read through, is making sure that I know whether this is the past or present I'm reading about. It makes starting each chapter a little more difficult because I need to orient myself in time.

As for Alice and Harvey, I've already told you I like Harvey. I think he's a huge sweetheart, and I love that he has such a close relationship with his mom. I love how emotional and honest he is. He's one of my favorite male characters in YA. Alice on the other hand? I still don't like. I didn't like her the first time, I don't really like her now. What I do like, is that she's brutally honest. She knows that being sick sucks, and she's not afraid to admit it. She's honest about being afraid of death, about not knowing what the future holds once she finds out she's better. The problem, for me at least, is just her negativity grates on me. That, and I absolutely cannot stand the way she treats Harvey. It makes me livid.

Which brings me to their relationship. So far we've skimmed the surface of them together, but I'm sure you can tell that it isn't exactly a happy relationship. Harvey is a very giving character, and Alice takes. And takes. I feel bad that Harvey has it so bad for Alice. That she can't seem to be able to let him go, but can't keep him too close either. I know I'm biased, because people like that drive me crazy, but I truly don't know how Harvey tolerates being at arms reach all the time.

In regards to the last question, I've kind of already answered it above I guess. I actually don't mind Alice's outlook on her disease. It's not often that a character is brutally honest about cancer. She doesn't see the need to be eternally optimistic, or to play the vibrant healing patient for her parents. I can respect that. As I said, cancer is the worst. I only wish she hadn't decided that it meant it was okay for her to live without consequence. You'll see why, coming down the story line, but I think that is what bothered me the most.

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