Zac and Mia
By A.J. Betts
Publication date: Sept. 2, 2014
HMH Books for Young Readers, 289 pages
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.
— Goodreads.com description
I understand why publishers keep referencing The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park in their books’ blurbs — those titles have mass appeal and are sure to capture many potential readers’ attention.
But Zac and Mia have been better served if those books weren’t mentioned in the blurb above at all. Beyond the cancer thing and a title that featured two character names…I didn’t see the connection and don’t feel the comparison to such stellar books did it any favors.
Regardless, there was plenty to appreciate about Zac and Mia.
– I appreciated all the cancer details included — the author clearly did her research and really portrayed how difficult and mundane it is to be stuck inside a hospital.
– Plus, Zac was engaging from the get-go and sucked me right in. I adored his interactions with his mother.
– The book’s structure was great — it moved from a Zac section, to a section that alternated between Zac & Mia, and ended with a Mia-only section. Really creative and it worked well here.
Yet…while I liked Zac, I never connected to Mia. I felt lukewarm and unemotional about their relationship, which was the main focus of the story. Also, I will just vaguely say the end took a turn I feel weird about.
So…hmm. Another one with pros and cons!