Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Zac and Mia
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
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.


Publishes in US:  Sep 2, 2014
Genre: YA contemp
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Edelweiss
Series? no

Buy it: Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Author stalk away: ~site Facebook author page Twitter feed  ~blog
Visit the book website
Watch the book trailer

    I wanted to read Zac and Mia because I am drawn to stories about sick kids. I blame Lurlene McDaniel because she is one of the first authors who wrote about something like that I picked up and it totally made me emotional and I loved every second. Now, that has opened the door for me picking up all kinds of different novels dealing with illnesses and kids facing hard times, and I still fall for the emotional as well as the strength and hope in the kids even if they are facing down death or situations they should never have to. 

    It starts with Zac's point of view, and you could tell that he knew the routine of being in the hospital. He knew the welcome speech, and could anticipate the questions his mom would ask him. Questions that moms usually don't get away with asking teenage boys, but he has cancer and is post bone marrow transplant. He keeps his sense of humor though, and tries to stay positive. Most of all I like him even more because he humors his mom, and he plays games with her since their family is further away and she sticks by his side. I love that added family element and you can tell that his mom cares a lot for him, and tries to be hip and do things he would want like asking to play CUD (should be CoD--Call of Duty) something that I think she would normally never get into or enjoy. 

    His mom is also the unofficial  social coordinator. She will have tea (its australian) with other spouses or parents and be an ear to talk about what they're going through, and also I think to give her an outlet to talk with other adults. It functions also to let us know what is going on outside Zac's room since he can't leave for awhile because of his treatment.

   There is a major shift about halfway through, we start getting Mia's point of view and Zac is finally released. It is amazing to see how their friendship grows... From the taps and knocks to facebook to real life. How much they need each other, and help each other through the really dark time. While there is some chemistry between the two, I like the predominant focus being on healing and figuring how to deal with the hand that life has dealt them. 

    I loved getting to know Zac's family. The dynamics there are even better once he is released. They live on an olive farm, where people come to pick them, and they also have all the barnyard animals for people to pet, and it falls on the family to take care of the farm, but you can tell they love it and want their hands to be in dirt or on fur somehow or another. His older sister also stole my heart. She lived in a seperate house and was able to help Zac at a time his mom wouldn't have understood. She is so understanding and hip, and wants the best for Zac and also able to help and encourage him.

   While there are the light things, especially Zac's fascination with Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter). He was very focused on statistics on death and cancer... survival rates, remission and relapse percentages, and also to some extent numbers about other kind of death. There is also talk of losing hair, bowel movements, and puke. It never really gets too graphic but there are some darker themes that we get via Zac. 
    Oh and yes, some compare to Fault in Our Stars... Its two kids with cancer, a boy and a girl. Mia has the osteosarcoma, and there is some sarcasm. But. There were cancer books about teens before TFiOS and will be after as well. A lot of cancer books have certain themes in common, but so do books about vampires. The author's style of writing, and the character journeys and personalities are what makes books different. 

    One thing that kept things light was the sarcasm and Zac's sense of humor. I really like him and how real he was... But at the same time while he didn't sugarcoat things, he also was able to laugh at himself. 
   The setting was also unique. We are in australia with Zac and Mia, and his farm with the joeys (roos). There was some slang that I wasn't used to and a few that I didn't know what it meant, but it really didn't effect my enjoyment. 

    I liked the ending and also seeing the role reversal of sorts. They had both learned so much from cancer, from their family, even though Mia pushes hers away and is angry at some of the choices. It ended on a hopeful note but for the type of novel, it was perfect and not too over the top or unrealistic, but enough for me to be satisfied. 

Bottom Line: Emotional journey of two teens with cancer and their friendship.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever formed a friendship by knocks, flashlights in windows, talking over the fence, that sort of clandestine novelesque way?

Follow on Bloglovin


  1. There seems to be a glut of these books around at the moment. Highly emotional reading most of them, I really have to feel in the mood to pick one up. Anyway, great review.

  2. See, this is why I hate when every cancer books is compared to TFiOS, because yeah, TFiOS had cancer kids in it and everything, behind it, it wasn't about that at all. Okay, behind every cancer book isn't just about cancer.

    Talking over the fence! Well, with my neighbours, that's how that started out, haha.

  3. I read this and went immediately to Net Galley and requested it. It sounds good to me, although emotional.Thanks for the great review!

  4. Ah yes it's difficult when people compare books, it's always like that with ppular novels but it sounds like a beautiful story and I'm glad you had a good time with it.

  5. I also like reading about sickness as those book tend to bring all the feels. This one seems do that and I really like the sound of it. Great review, Brandi :)

  6. I have never heard of this book. By way of comparison to TFIOS, I didn't love that book too much. I thought it was okay. Maybe I will like this one better? It does sound like it's going to be an emotional ride. Thinking of this book reminds me of Wonder, one I have yet to read that you might like. I did read on called Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper and I can't recommend it anymore. I read it, and cried. Gave it to my mum and sisters and they all cried. When I gave it to my disabled little sister she read it in two days and well, the emotional response was much similar to ours. You should give that one a go and will I keep an eye out for this one too.

  7. I had not heard of this one before.Cool

  8. I love how you point out that when a book becomes so popular, we tend to think it's like that one. As you said no vampire books are exactly the same as each other as I would assume books about two kids with cancer wouldn't be either. I love that he's obsessed with Emma Watson and statistics. I am so glad you enjoyed the family dynamic as well. Great review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

  9. I don't think I could handle another cancer story right now but perhaps one day. this sounds like a great emotional read.

  10. This sounds really good, but I definitely have to be in the right mood for books centered around cancer. Great review!

  11. I tend to stay a way from cancer books because it hits a little too close to home, and I read to escape, not for a dose of reality, regardless of how well the story was executed. I've formed a friendship via a Facebook game; does that count? He's actually my husband now. Hehe We also worked together at the time though, so that definitely helped too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  12. I had seen people mentioning this book on Twitter but I had no idea what it was about. It sounds like the cancer themes are written really well. Nice review.

  13. I love how the family is central to this. You mentioned McDaniel. I have one of her books and will try to fit it in.

  14. I've been so curious about this book, so I'm glad to read such a positive review! Zac's family sounds great, and I love that it's set in Australia. I'll have to check this one out!

    Great review!

  15. This cover is so awesome ;) I love a good family story and while cancer books aren't my favorite, I could totally see myself reading this just for the sake of the family dynamics. I'm so glad you liked it as a whole, Brandi! It seems like illness books really suit for you and your emotions :)

  16. Zac sounds like a fun character to read about, and this building relationship sounds sweet. I haven't read a book with cancer in it before, I think it would wreck me too much! Great review though Brandi!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  17. Zac and Mia sounds awesome, Brandi. I sometimes love to read books that make me cry, and kids with illness tend to do that to me... I recently watched the TFioS movie, and I cried from start to finish, partly because I knew what was going to happen, I think... And I loved every second of it.
    Adding Zac and Mia to my TBR :) Thanks for your great review.
    And to answer your question, no, I don't think I've formed a friendship like that... unless the internet counts ;)


I would love to hear from you! (I always try to visit your blog back) I love links, so feel free to link to your blog or a post you like.
Sorry, but I am award and tag free zone, I do not have the time to return. Comments are reward enough :)