Addresses Issues/Diverse · Contemporary · That's What They Said · YA

That’s What They Said: Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts



Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.” So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

SOURCE:  ARCs provided by publisher for review (Thank you!)




Ok, so the subject matter for this one was extremely close to home.  I’m not going to lie to you, if you’ve dealt with cancer at all, whether yourself or a loved one, this might be a difficult read but while difficult at times (just ask Daph about some of my texts) it was also a very honest and one of the most accurate I’ve seen in a long time.  I’ve seen these character’s views/approach to cancer, both good and bad (sometimes in the same day), in my own loved ones.  I recognized the meds, their reactions to them.  I related to their feelings, their families, etc.  This book was like opening up the middle of the book of my life and it made me very emotional.  I haven’t had a ton of down time to squeeze in reading as of late so I’m proud if I finish a book a week right now but I read this one in a day.  Both beautiful and sad, it is definitely worth a chance.




This one was a little slow for me to get into.  I don’t know if it was the subject matter or being in Zac’s head (he’s the first narrator), but it took me a while to latch on to the story.  There is a lot of medical terminology, as well as the subject matter, and maybe that also made me distracted from the story. I never really connected with the characters, despite my wanting to because it is a story about kids with cancer.  I was always a little removed from the story and I was disappointed because I couldn’t connect. Maybe it’s just me, though, because I know Kristina loved it.  I was hoping to have similar feelings like I did with The Fault in Our Stars, which I loved, but it just didn’t get there for me.  I am sorry to compare it to the critical success of TFiOS, but it is just a natural inclination to compare stories with like storylines. However, having said this, I do think it’s a worthy story that needs to be read because it does inspire empathy and compassion, while keeping it’s characters relate-able and real.



2 thoughts on “That’s What They Said: Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

  1. I didn’t know much about this book before reading you gals’s review. It sounds good, but I also have a little trepidation about the sad factor…and I can understand Daphne comparing it to TFIOS. This time of year is tough because it reminds me of my grandmother who passed away from cancer a few years ago–I know it can be a difficult time for a lot of people!

    Love your including your text messages about this! Nice!

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