Review: "Zac and Mia" by A.J Betts

Author: A. J Betts
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publication: Text Publishing
Release Date: July 24, 2014
Pages: 310
Spoilers:  Nah, no important ones
Rating: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

I got into Sicklits and I don’t regret it.

“When I was little, I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.”

So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.” [Goodreads]

Two opposites collide in a cruel world where one considers the other lucky, even though the other does not agree. This book shows that people experience things in such a different manner that one can consider the other lucky, while the other might be having the worst time of his life. The two main characters, Zac and Mia, meet through knocks and taps and eventually they use actual words to communicate. Isn’t that great?!

The circumstances in which they meet are a little different than anyone elses. Zac is in this super agonizing quarantine after going through a bone marrow transplant that’s supposed to save his life from leukemia. Zac’s statistics aren’t all that great. Then, one day, a new patients comes into the room next to Zac’s. Her name’s Mia and she’s got cancer in her leg. Good survival rate, so Zac considers her lucky, while Mia thinks she’s about as unlucky as it gets.

Whatever happens next is interesting. They don’t spend most of the book together. In fact, they both go their own ways with only rarely communicating, until Mia needs Zac. He helps her, but not fort he reasons Mia suspects. He tries to show her just how lucky she actually is, while he is very unlucky.

tfiosAt some point, one of my friends asked me about this book and I replied with “It’s like an angry version of The Fault in our Stars” and I still stand by my choice of words. It’s cute but they’re not sweet. They’re frustrated and angry but also weak and full of cancer, so it is kind of like an angry version of TFioS.

What I think is great about this book is how you get to read both perspectives. You get to know how both of them think and why they do the things they do. They’re young, which shows in the words the author chooses to use. It’s an easy to read book and I’d read it again anytime.

Something I did think was cliché is the end, which I both loved and hated. The characters end up in sort of opposite situations, but it’s not what you expect. The surprise is what I love. Thecliche cliché is what I hate. I won’t give away too much, but the reason to why one of them tries again is cute but not original.

The fact that they’re so opposite, Mia only ever having and hating her mom, while Zac has an entire family he could rely on, makes the two of them together so interesting. Whatever they hate about their own families, the other one would kill for.

I liked it. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read, but it was good. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like something different but I’d warn them for the somewhat cliché ending. I would read it again.



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