Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Placebo Junkies - J.C. Carleson

I've been let down by YA lately, sure I have my favorite authors that can do no wrong, but otherwise I was kind of avoiding the whole genre. It isn't that I'm too old for the books, not at all, I am just tired of the same story line being handled in the same way by characters with new names, but exactly the same characteristics of the character in the previous story. It kind of gets old. Then came Placebo Junkies, I'd read the premise, I'd heard murmurs about it, and thought, huh I should read that. I didn't read other's reviews, but when the opportunity came to read it, I couldn't say no. If you're looking to shake up your reading list, get out of a slump, or just have your mind completely blown, then Placebo Junkies is for you.

Rating: 4 Stars
Published: October 2015
Many thanks to Random House for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Audie and her band of misfit friends are professional lab rats, or as she calls them "guinea pigs." Forget needing a regular job, sign up for 6 weeks of trials here, 5 days here, and maybe another 10 days here and you've got a wad of cash in your hands. Don't mind the rashes, the boils, the crazy thoughts you have, it's easy money. Audie's in it for her boyfriend, Dylan; such a sick, handsome, so deserving boyfriend. She's got a trip of a lifetime planned, so he can finally stop making a list of places he's never been to. No pain, no gain, that's what Audie says, so she signs up for every trial she can to save the money. Except, all these trials are making things fuzzier and fuzzier for her.

"You can even chain your studies together. Did you get burned during the laser hair-removal protocol? They're testing an analgesic cream for that on Six. Are those funny new antidepressant pills giving you night terrors? Why not sign up for the sleep study just down the hall?... it's kind of funny when you get the pieces to come together like this - kind of like a real-life Tetris game."

 Audie is such an unreliable narrator; she's queen of the damned and totally disillusioned by life, except for her love of Dylan. Her thoughts jump around, her judgement is skewed, and absolutely everything she did in this book made me worry about her like a mother hen. It was totally the right kind of book to bring me back to YA novels. This just isn't like any other YA novel you've read, not even close. There's no insta-love, no obnoxious love triangles that make no sense, and no run of the mill story line. No, Placebo Junkies is edgy, it's raw, it deals with an extremely tough subject, and it makes you live it right alongside the narrator.

 Placebo Junkies it written in two styles, first person POV from Audie and satirical blog posts. It's humorous, sarcastic, and a little bit depressing. As you weave yourself into the world of pharmaceutical drug trials things get a little turned upside down and the twists come at you when you least expect them to. The characters are twisted, they aren't perfect or beautiful, and they will make you pretty introspective. You see, nothing is what it seems in this book and as you unravel the story your mind unravels a teensy bit with it.

 This book will make you uneasy, it will make you think a lot, and it will also make you take a look at your world around you. While this is a work of fiction, the author shares that parts of it really are real life for some people. It also brings some serious mental issues that people are often afraid to talk about to the table. J.C. Carleson not only has you experiencing it with our narrator, but sympathizing as Audie's history comes to light. I gave this book four stars, because of how badly it messed with my own psyche after I closed the book. I got 80% of the way through, shut it and walked away for an entire day, because I felt so uncomfortable. It isn't a bad thing, while frightening, it is an important topic to cover and I think this book does it better than any other I've seen try to scratch the surface. Yes, Placebo Junkies is a Young Adult novel, but I think this darkly humorous book is one than everyone should take the time to read, young or old. I'd like to see this book be a book club read, I think it is absolutely worth having a discussion about.


  1. Wow, it sounds... intense. I wasn't sure about it when I first started reading the review, but your descriptions of the story pulled me in. It sounds like the sort of thing that would interest me, so I'll have to give it a go sometime. :)


    1. Alexa, I went into it with a lot of hesitation, especially within the first few chapters, but the characters suck you in, so does the intrigue, and once you're involved in their lives you won't be putting this book down. I definitely recommend it, even if it is outside your usual reads. :)


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