Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson
Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.
Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.
Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!
But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it.
No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….
Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.
Publishes in US: October 27th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: ya contemp
Source: Random House e-arc via Netgalley
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy). I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free.
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I wanted to read Placebo Junkies because I am drawn to stories about illness and the idea of putting yourself through medical procedures and taking medicines that can have nasty side effects for cash intrigues me in that morbid way. Also, the boyfriend that's sick that she thinks is worth the big surprise and money grabs my attention. I wondered if doing the clinical trials was also a way to connect with him and just trying to understand what he might be going through with a terminal illness. I knew this would likely be highly emotional and give room for lots of character growth and realization since the trials will effect her and things go to a bad place as a result of the trials.
This is a gritty book, and Audie describes with detail the horrible side effects of the trials she goes through, and we get pieces of her rough life and what has led her to this lifestyle. Most of the people in her life are also in the drug trials and can sympathize, but her boyfriend also has been through hard procedures and medicines. I couldn't decide if I was feeling their relationship- it was different from a lot of couples I've read about for sure, and they have seen unpleasant sides so its not putting on a front. But she couldn't decide as the book gets going if he is getting sicker or if he is moving on, and her uncertainty and not able to get in his head made me feel a lot of these things.
Things got really weird and a twist that I was not expecting. Audie ends up being an unreliable narrator. Characters that I thought I had a hold on completely transformed. It was nice because of the fact that I expected one sort of outcome and this managed to change that up.
We get answers to the why and how, and Audie's motivations and reasoning. The wrap up was complete, and though I was a bit confused at times, it resolved itself.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever been a part of a clinical trial?