Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have read and loved many "cancer books," but this isn't your typically "cancer story." First, it's not a romance. It is really the story of a friendship. The type of friendship where you can truly be yourself, warts and all, where you find complete and total acceptance, and deep understanding.
The characters are the true heart of this story. Zac is one of the most loveable characters I have come across. You literally cannot help but love him. He is funny, affable, self-deprecating, cautiously optimistic, caring, and his family is adorable. However, the real star of the story is Mia. Her character arc throughout the novel was brilliantly done. She was raw and real, and she made no apologies. Her anger and grief were such true emotions in the situation that it made the story so relatable and engaging.
I liked how Betts didn't attempt to sugarcoat anything. Even loveable Zac, when faced with a heartbreaking and seemingly insurmountable challenge, reacted in a real way. He became angry and withdrawn, he didn't pretend that everything would be alright. But the beauty of Zac and Mia's relationship is how they pick each other up when they stumble or fall. I thought it was a beautifully written narrative. It was funny, sad, hopeful, entertaining, and a very satisfying read.
I only have one complaint about the audiobook version of this novel. It is about two teenagers who live in Australia, yet neither narrator had an Australian accent. They kept referring to kangaroos and places in Australia and it bothered me every time I was reminded of the setting of the story. Don't get me wrong, I liked the narrators. Other than their complete lack of Australian accents, I thought they embodied the characters wonderfully. It may just be my OCD talking here...
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