Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Title: Zac and Mia
Author: A.J. Betts
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Text Publishing (Thank you!)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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.
Review by Nara

Let's be honest, the majority of us, after finding out that this is a book about kids with cancer, would have been like eh I'll just go read The Fault in Our Stars. And inevitably while I was reading the book, I kept drawing comparisons between it and TFIOS. Is Zac and Mia as feels inspiring as TFIOS? Is Zac and Mia as realistic as TFIOS? Is Zac and Mia as good as TFIOS? Frankly no. But at this point we do have to acknowledge that very few books will ever live up to the genius that is TFIOS (when did this review turn into a promotion of TFIOS lol), and I also do have to acknowledge that Zac and Mia is certainly a heartwarming and interesting read nonetheless.

I really don't know how I felt about Mia. I hesitate to criticise her because she has cancer, but to be completely honest, dat kid cray cray (at least at the start). I mean, seriously, it's really not socially acceptable to randomly get into a stranger's bed without their permission. Or randomly climb through their window in the middle of the night and then get into their bed. Even if you've Facebook messaged each other a few times. Not cool, Mia. Not cool. She does get better later on in the book though.
How can you share someone's secrets, sent back and forth in the quiet of early mornings, but not know basic stuff like the suburb they live in or their phone number? How can someone vanish from your life so easily?
On the other hand, I loved Zac. He was just such an awesome character (although with questionable tastes in friends- by which I mean Mia, I don't think we really see any of his other friends). His sense of humour and strength were definitely the kind that we like to read about in "cancer books". I just loved his interactions with Mia and I suppose by the end of the novel I was converted into supporting their weird relationship. It was interesting observing how Zac affected Mia- how he showed her how "lucky" she was.
I'm the least brave of everyone. I never signed up for this war. Leukaemia conscripted me, the fucker.
I feel like the portrayal of cancer in the book was fairly realistic. In fact, most of the events in the book were realistic except for one event which annoyed me a bit. First some background: Mia and Zac met in the hospital and then went their separate ways after they were discharged. Zac went home to his farm in rural Western Australia, Mia stayed in Perth. So, the pretty cliched event was that Mia ran away from home and coincidentally found a pamphlet about Zac's farm, and decided to go there (without knowing it was Zac's farm). She goes there and voila, there is Zac, just when she needs him most (because she's just run out of money). I do not approve of this coinkidink.

Overall, I would say that this is quite a good book. Interesting and memorable characters, realistic plot and heartwarming, optimistic ending- certainly a book to look out for.

Liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5


  1. Ah a shame that this isn't as good as TFioS but I guess that's a lot to live up to. Mia DOES sound crazy at the start, geez! At least it's all fairly realistic and everything. Great review!

    Here's my WoW.

    1. Yeah pretty realistic in general. It was actually quite a good book! Just not as good as TFIOS haha. Is any book as good as TFIOS? :P

  2. This cover - so cool! And LOL, the first sentence of your review. Quite true. Then again, TFiOS is the only cancer book I've read (I think), so maybe I'd be more open-minded if I ever give this book a go.

    "Is Zac and Mia as good as TFIOS? Frankly no." - I don't think any characters out there will be able to match up to Hazel and Gus' awesomeness. Let's face it: they're both pretty weird, so it wouldn't be surprising NOT to see characters like them outside of TFiOS.

    And haha, I've always had a thing against characters called Mia. For some reason all these Mias have always annoyed the heck out of me, so I'm honestly not surprised that the Mia here was a little... too impulsive. Those things you mentioned, though - ugh. I'm glad we get to see at least some character development as the story progresses.

    But what are the odds of a teenage girl - with cancer, mind you - running all the way to a FARM? Why not someplace fancier? Sounds too convenient to me. I don't approve, either.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this overall. Even though I LOVE the cover, there're a couple things in there that might, or WOULD, grate on my nerves to no end. I love the sound of Zac, though. Great review, Nara!

    1. Have you read My Sister's Keeper before? That's a cancer book too :)

      Yeah the TFIOS characters are quite unique! Don't think I've read about many characters similar to Hazel and Gus!

      lol what other Mias have annoyed you? The only other Mia I can think of off the top of my head is Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries. I guess she was kind of annoying (in the books. She's awesome in the movies- Anne Hathway <3)

      She saw a pamphlet in a petrol station or something and was like, yeah I'm totes gong to go there! Definitely seems like too much of a coincidence.

      I don't actually understand the cover! It's quirky, I guess haha

  3. Crawling into a stranger's bed without their permission is definitely not normal. Mia sounds like she might be a bit difficult to understand - but I'm glad you liked Zac's character. I haven't actually read TFiOS yet (I know, I know!) so I probably wouldn't find myself making any comparisons here. It's good to hear you thought this was a solid read overall. Lovely review, Nara!

    1. I know right! If I was Zac I'd be like GTFO. But yeah, obviously Zac is a lot kinder than I am :P

      OMG YOU HAVEN'T READ TFIOS! FREAKING READ IT! Although I guess you might be put off by all the hype haha.

  4. Hahaha. I laughed at your TFIOS promotion, Nara. TFIOS maybe one of the most beautiful books ever released but I don't think I'm ready to read it. I've read a lot of reviews where almost everyone has stated that they cried. I already bought the book but I am such a coward to dive into it. I am a crybaby that I don't think I would survive the potential pain that the book will inflict on me.

    As I am typing this comment, I am also asking myself this: Should I include this book on my TBR list? My answer: Charlotte, if you want to survive TFIOS then this is a good book to prepare you for the more painful battle ahead.

    And I agree with how Zac was immediately there...sounds like a deus ex machina at work.

    Excellent review, Nara! :D

    1. But, but TFIOS is so good! It probably will make you cry though haha. It made me cry, and I really don't cry often in books!

      This book isn't nearly as sad as TFIOS though! It's definitely more...optimistic? Don't really know the word to explain it haha.

      Thanks Charlotte :D

  5. Oh, I could see myself drawing comparisons to TFiOS, too! Idk how I would feel about this book, especially if it isn't just as awesome. I do like the sound of Zac though! Great review!

    AKA Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

    1. I wouldn't be discouraged from reading it just because it isn't as good as TFIOS. It's hard to live up to that standard :P
      Thanks Vi :)