I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Book Expo America
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The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note—then a friendship neither of them sees coming.
You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
If I could describe Zac & Mia in one word, I’m pretty sure I would use meh. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it original? No. Would I take it with me if my house was on fire? Okay, I’m taking this too far.
The novel follows two teens with cancer, which unfortunately draws parallels to that-very-popular-cancer-story-everybody-knows. Zac is in the last stretch of his recovery while Mia is just beginning her battle with cancer. The novel is told in two perspectives and three different parts. I think the way the novel is divided is very clever and it helped me understand both of the characters equally. I won’t say more about it because I want you to discover this on your own. Another aspect of this novel that I want to share with the world is the writing. A.J. Betts is very witty! So you’ll be happy to know this if you’re into funny writers.
My problem with this novel is the nature of the relationship. At its core, the friendship between Zac and Mia is very unstable. The characters are meant to be polar opposites, which brings out the best and worst moments in the novel. At first glance, one could wonder why these teens start any relationship at all. Zac is optimistic, lovable, and nice. Mia is angry and manipulative. Once you get over this unnatural connection, you might start to see that they are meant to grow together and balance each other out. Perhaps this is not the most original plot development but it did a good job at settling my conflict about their attraction to one another.
Once I finished reading, I tried to take notes about the major plot points so I could work them into my review. However, I realized that not a lot took place. The overall story lacked detail and the way everything developed was very underwhelming. Also, even though there is a very strong family presence in the novel, I felt like Mia’s side of the story was very poorly executed. I wanted more from her, especially since she goes through a major transformation. I’m not saying this novel is terrible. It isn’t. It just missed too many opportunities to shine and I think that’s really unfortunate.
Overall, Zac & Mia is an average novel that had the potential to be pretty good. Instead of focusing on the aspects that could’ve made it special, it relied on witty writing and pop culture reference to make a statement. I think some of you might enjoy it but, again, meh.