Friday, 26 September 2014

"Zac & Mia" by A.J. Betts | Book Review

Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant when the mysterious Mia moves into the hospital room next door. After spending almost every hour of the past couple of weeks with only his mom and nurses, he's excited to have a new person nearby. But although they're only separated by a few centimetres, Zac and Mia never meet while they're in hospital. The real story comes afterward.

I couldn't put this down. I was so intrigued by the characters and their stories that I really did not want to stop reading. The characters react very differently to their cancers and the resulting treatments, but I found that I could empathize with both.

Zac is very sweet and funny. He knows the girl-in-the-hospital-room-next-door is new to cancer and everything the C-word brings with it, so he sends her notes and tries to help where he can. Zac is, of course, upset to be stuck in a room for more than a month while he recovers, but he handles it rather well, always remaining hopeful.

Mia is a different story. Among the Goodreads reviews for Zac & Mia, I've seen a lot of hate toward her, and while everyone's entitled to their own opinion, I love Mia. Emotionally, she doesn't react well to the treatment she needs. Given the choice, she wouldn't take the treatment she needs to get rid of her cancer. But she doesn't get that choice.

She's miserable and angry at the world after her surgery, and I can absolutely empathize with her. If I had to have that procedure done, I'd need time to wallow in self-pity and figure myself out as well. Mia is very depressed, but she's also very funny and is trying to figure out how to go on after the difficult things she's been through. Having said that, she does some bad things that I won't make excuses for. Ultimately though, I love Mia - she's absolutely flawed. On a side note, I can totally see her portrayed by Imogen Poots in a movie!

So. This is a story about two teens facing the awful realities that cancer brings. Sound familiar? Because of the subject matter and target audience, I think a lot of people will be tempted to compare this to The Fault in Our Stars. While I certainly think comparisons can be beneficial sometimes, in this case I think readers would be doing the story - and themselves - a disservice. While yes, the main characters in each novel are teens with cancer (and Mia and Gus both have Osteosarcoma), the similarities pretty much end there. These are very different stories about very different people: Zac and Mia are not Augustus and Hazel.

This is such a sweet book and it really moved me. I highly recommend it, but I don't recommend reading and comparing it to TFiOS because they're really not the same.

This is a beautiful tale of friendship and two teens brought together through one of the most difficult circumstances.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review, via Goodreads Giveaway.
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