Zac & Mia, AJ Betts

zamiaThe 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.

Find the book here on Goodreads.

I want to get the inevitable TFIOS comparisons out of the way right here at the beginning.  Yes, this is a book about two teenagers with cancer, yes it is about their relationship, yes the Make-A-Wish foundation makes an appearance and yes, a lot of the same themes explored in TFIOS are revisited here (dark humour, oblivion, making your mark on the world, etc) but to directly compare the two still feels wrong.  Zac and Mia’s relationship, while not totally platonic, is definitely more about friendship than it is star-crossed lovers.  And if anything, reading this book felt more like Looking For Alaska than it did TFIOS.  But maybe that’s just me.

Betts’ writing is what made this book for me.  The writing is so fluid and casual and easy that it’s lovely to read.  Zac was the perfect, farm-boy-next-door protagonist with the amazing loving family, playing opposite Mia’s spoiled, selfish, ‘moody cow’ runaway.  Not to say that she doesn’t have a good reason for acting that way (some of the time) or that she’s a terrible person never to be redeemed.  (Come on, by now you know my unparalleled love for Scarlet O’Hara.)  They make a great tea; they help each other, they understand each other… you know, eventually.  It’s such a lovely friendship and by the end of the book it’s so clear how much they need and rely upon one another.  And I’m going to sound like a broken record here but it’s another book set in Australia!  And the Aussie vernacular is really upped in this book to the point where I was wondering what foreigners will think at the ‘two hedgehogs in a bag vibrating on the dashboard [of the car]’.  Hm.

I really liked this book.  I was expecting something a little more from it perhaps, but I still really enjoyed the read.  The setting was unique, the characters were flawed and the writing was great.



2 thoughts on “Zac & Mia, AJ Betts

  1. I saw that this book had some mixed reviews on Goodreads. I wonder if people are disappointed because they start reading the book looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars. I am glad you still liked the story anyway.

    I haven’t read much Australian fiction though I love Liane Moriarty’s books and I think The Rosie Project (another favorite of mine) is also by an Australian author.

    • This was a really lovely, really nicely written book and I highly recommend it. It just didn’t bowl me over, you know? Ah yes, I read The Rosie Project and have the sequel to read, I just have to get around to it!

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