Book Review: Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts


The procrastination on reviewing this book is so intense I can’t even remember what it’s about. Alright, maybe not that drastic; it hasn’t been that long. Don’t worry, though, I can still round up some opinions on it and give you guys another one of my extensive reviews.

Zac’s neighbors in the hospital his room is reserved at come and go. Sometimes they’re old and sickly or middle-aged and ready, but he never had a hall mate quite like Mia. Young, feisty, and dreadfully rebellious, Mia blasts her way into his life with bad pop music. The social rules don’t apply in the sterile hallways, and Mia and Zac find themselves spiraling into a friendship dependent on each other to keep courage in the real world and in the blindingly white hospital rooms.

Zac is cute, lovable, and down-to-earth. He’s accepted his cancer and somehow has taken it in stride. Mia, on the other hand, freaks about her disease despite her high survival rate and basically does everything in her power to hinder her treatments. For the first part of the book, it’s mostly Zac’s perspective, and the last half is Mia.

Mia is meant to be a hated character, and yes, I disliked her. She didn’t put things in perspective, especially when Zac’s cancer is so much worse than her own. I also felt pity for her, though. It’s probably more realistic to react like this and rebel while focusing on frivolous things rather than the big picture. I can’t even begin to image myself in that situation, and with her whole teenage life going exactly as planned, this must have been a complete shock. Zac’s level-headed perspective makes the reader feel almost angry at the cards dealt to him. The readers cheer him on and pull for him the entire book, unlike Mia, who almost creates an indifference for herself.

Their relationship is super different, too. It shows how extraordinary circumstances can bring polar opposites together. Mia, the cool, mountains of friends, superficial life outlook, meets Zac, mellow, sheltered, too wise to be a teenager, and somehow their friendship blooms. It’s like looking around at a group of people so drastically different you can’t help but wonder what one thing brought them together. Church, sports, classes? In this case, it’s their disease. I also liked the fact that instead of a quick I’ll-love-you-forever-you’re-my-one-and-only romance where the two leads fall head-over-heels in love in a couple pages, the book mostly progresses with their friendship, uneasy start and all. Way more realistic.

The plot… unorginal. And no, I’m not comparing it to The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve read many cancer books, and they aren’t all the same. I just didn’t think any huge plot twist or anything super interesting happened throughout the novel. It focuses more on character development. I have to admit, the two person perspective is overused, but it works. It’s not evenly distributed, like flipping chapters or splitting in the middle, but that makes it more unique and better to read. It keeps the reader on their toes.

Overall, it’s a quick read and the reader is always engaged in the story and interested in the fates of the characters. Zac and Mia both have many layers to them, like an ogre. Or an onion (Shrek reference, anyone?). Anyway, it’s definitely a character-driven novel, and while the plot may not be terribly different, the realistic characters and strange events that bring their friendship closer together make for a fun and quick read.

3.5 Stars



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