The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this tough and tender young adult novel that's a lot about love (and a little about cancer).
Winner of the 2012 Australian Text Prize
"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.
As I started this book I was hoping it would be good. I liked the first chapter and I thought the writing style was great and started to get a feel for what the book was going to be about. About cancer, the two young people struggling with it, and possibly a romance along the way. I was also thinking to myself about what I like about books like this, I don't like when one of the characters dies and the book leaves emotionally vulnerable for several days following it, if that's what you were wondering. I like that you have a single setting, the hospital, and that there is always an uplifting message. It's usually a pretty deep book too, dealing with thoughts and musings of life and death and everything in between that relates to them.
Where this book stands on my list of things I like about hospital-y books is unclear. It had hope, yes. It was deep, yes. It was set partly in a hospital, yes. But it was also set on an olive tree farm with a petting zoo and it also had tears and struggles. In a way it was very realistic, almost too realistic in how sad the characters get sometimes. Or angry. And maybe it wasn't that it was too realistic, it was just more realistic than I would have liked. It ended up feeling a bit too heavy for to really enjoy it that much. And I didn't particularly like Mia until almost the end of the book, I didn't like her attitude even if I could reason out why she was acting a certain way. I could understand why she was being mad or running off...but I didn't like it. So I had a bit of trouble relating to her character. Zac I liked, even if he did have a disturbing knowledge of death statistics and how many people had been killed in tomato sauce vats. But he was a sweet guy, he had some great quirks and so did his family. I also liked how it was set in Australia, that was very different for me and I definitely enjoyed that part a lot.
Overall, I found the characters and setting interesting. The plot ended up being a bit heavy for me, it felt depressing even if it did end on a hopeful note. I liked the writing style and it was a well written contemporary/realistic fiction, so if you like this sort of story, then I would recommend it. If you prefer happier books then stick with those instead of picking this one up, I think. It was a very good book, it just made me feel a bit sad and I really didn't connect with Mia much. So I feel like it's a matter of your personal taste, for me it was a bit too sad, but I still enjoyed the writing and characters. I'm giving Zac & Mia 3 out of 5 flowers.
Sara Bennett happens to be a slightly crazy girl. A slightly nerdy girl. A slightly strange girl who likes being that way. A slightly obsessed girl when it comes to things she loves. A girl who cries when reading books. A girl who desperately wants her own personal library. A girl who is a total bookworm. A girl who would rather read than watch reality tv. A girl who wants to be an author someday. A girl who loves her Savior. And a girl who just loves to read.