Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Side Effects May Vary. About love and life and forgiveness BUT it takes long while before it got to any of those things because mostly it’s him being used and her using him then the both of them being aware of it. Did I enjoy it? Not by a long shot. Was it different? Most definitely. Do I appreciate what made it different? This begs the question: what sets this story apart? IS it that it does not paint a pretty picture? Lots of stories do so, except here it’s neither sad nor just the emotional because of her having been sick; if anything that’s just a side note here. It goes way beyond her being sick and the consequences of that. Here, the ugly comes from what they are all capable of. It is not her being sick but her being herself: mean, manipulative girl, with glimpses of kind but mostly the first two. It’s not sad because he loves her but because he allows himself to be used by her time and time again.
Liking her is impossible here; there’s no “next to” about it. She is mean and aware of her actions; she is likewise aware of how others see her yet nothing, least of all them, prevent her from doing what she was doing. Liking him is almost as difficult as liking her, but more- I pitied him, and not in the “I want to take him under my wing” way. I truly felt sorry for the kid; yet at the same time, he frustrated me! I was frustrated by his willingness to be used… ‘Til he wasn’t anymore, except by that point I was FORCING myself to get through this. Eventually they both changed their tune, too late though because it had been drummed into me what was wrong with her, what was wrong him, then what was wrong them together.
Redemption comes slowly here; in the mean time sympathizing with her, an impossible feat and pitying him, coming a bit too easily. This story is far from the love story its tags proclaims it to be; more it’s him used and her using and the both being aware of both as well as being unable to do and be otherwise. Then things shift when too much of it’s done; but by that point I was almost desperate for a something else – either a comeuppance or a head out of sand moment for the either of them. Then to tack on the blame game… well, this is me disliking where the story was going even more. When it started, I thought I knew where it was going; I was wrong, where she took the story: I quite disliked. She says “I am the way I am because of you…”Gah! I just hate that!
Blame game here made it apparent, Side Effects is more than the both of them loving each other the way they knew how; there’s carry over from something else that propels her to be the way she was. The ugly comes out only because of something else; and I just didn’t buy that bit of it.
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