Contemporary YA Reviews #2: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid & Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

September 11, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Contemporary YA Reviews #2: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid & Zac & Mia by A.J. BettsLet's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Australia on August 1, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

Jeann’s Thoughts 

Road trips bring about a sense of adventure, exploration, new people and sights. The idea behind Let’s Get Lost is appealing, where a girl sets her sights on a destination and plans on helping people and having adventures along the way. It’s more of a fluffy, fun and adventurous read that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously – as it ended up being unremarkable and pointless in the end.

The book is comprised of several short stories which are five different people which the teen adventurer Leila will meet along the way. She will touch them with her kindness, offer an ear and a hand to help them with the troubles and ends up making a real difference in their lives. Throughout the book, we will hear of these strangers finding a friend in Leila, but Leila herself is a mystery, until the end of the book when it’s revealed why she wants to go the Northern Lights. There wasn’t enough development for her even though we followed her throughout the book, and her story ended in a sort of ‘cop out’ way.

Most of the people who she meets will have some sort of issue that will need to be resolved, such as Hudson who is looking for a direction in life and romance, Bree who needs to make up with her sister, Elliot who wants to woo his best friend, Sonia who needs to return her wedding rings to her boyfriend. Each of these characters needed Leila in some way, and I kind of suspended my disbelief over the trust they had for Leila and vice versa. I have no idea why you would let a stranger into your car, drive you across a country, or invite them into your home after a few mere hours of meeting them, and this happened consistently during the novel. There was also an element of cheesiness during these meetings.

The girl responsible for the best night of his life was gone, headed vaguely north – who knew exactly where. 

Hudson was Leila’s mechanic, who proceeds to take her out on a date and then invite her into a home, and then they swim across a river and sleep under the stars together. This happened in the space of 24 hours, which was total insta-love and not enough time to understand the impact on Leila at all – espeically since you don’t really hear from her until the very end of the novel.

Bree’s story was one which really irritated me, as she’s an adrenaline junkie who has run away from home and also a thief. She influences Leila to steal from a grocery store and steal a car for a joyride, and during that whole time I was just incredulous with Leila’s willingness to go along with it.

“Leila, you hit me with your car in the middle of the night, and despite us knowing practically nothing about each other, you’re intent on fixing my love life,” Elliot said. “Trust me, the aura’s there.” 

During Sonia’s story, the two girls also figure out how to illegally get over the Canadian border after accidentally taking off with some wedding rings, and they jump into a stoner’s trunk in order to do so. There is no way this would be believable at all for any teenager with any sense of safety, and during the whole book I was just rolling my eyes at the amount of conveniences and stupid decisions that were made.

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Let’s Get Lost is a fun and adventurous compilation of short stories featuring the kind soul Leila. I couldn’t overlook the stupid decisions that she would make during the novel and her reckless disregard for her own safety. I felt like it was a pointless, unmemorable read – there was something lacking to tie it all together, whether it’s about the adventures that she had along the way or the impact that she made on people and the new friends that she made. It was overall a senseless, mind numbing read, but not one that I would be in a hurry to recommend.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. 


Zac and Mia  by A.J. Betts
Published by Text Publishing on July 24, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The 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.

After the heartbreak that was TFIOS, it took me a very long time to pick up another cancer book. I have no idea why it took me so long, because Zac & Mia were charming characters that really warmed my heart.

I love character relationships that seem to play off each other, balancing off each others moods and personalities. That’s what Zac & Mia was, with the optimistic, fact finding, caring Zac against the moody, morose, and violent Mia. Zac in hospital is the hardest part, as he counts his days there and shares all the gory details of cancer, from bowel movements to white cell counts. His days with his mum keeping him company are mundane, until Mia walks in blasting some loud Lady Gaga music on repeat and arguing with her mum. Mia seems so self loathing, angry and alone, even though she has a high chance of surviving cancer. With Zac’s caring nature and wanting to make a friend his age, he wants to get to know and help Mia. I loved how he could see through her facade and coping mechanism into how lonely she really was, and how there was no one there to really comfort her.

The book is told in three parts – the first in hospital, the second where Zac is released and living on the farm, and the third where Mia finally shares her point of view. While the plot is fairly loose, it offers us significant character development, especially with Zac finding a friend in Mia and Mia being able to affect him positively in the end.

Whatever’s happened to Mia, it’s emptied her. It’s left behind a girl with fake hair, fake plans, and nowhere in the world she actually wants to be. 

I loved both Zac and Mia, even though Mia was a bit insufferable at the start. She’s self pitying, angry, and violent and worried about losing her hair instead of her survival rate. And you know what? That’s probably a more realistic reaction, than the more practical Zac with his quiet acceptance of leukemia.

Zac’s beautiful nature in reaching out to Mia from the start, shows the development of a beautiful friendship. It’s not just about romance, it’s more about finding a kindred soul who you can rely on to understand the darkest parts of cancer. About someone you can talk to as an equal without being subject to pity or ignorance. About someone who will not judge, but just listen and be there during your darkest moments.

I’m a complete idiot. All the compliments in the world mean nothing if he doesn’t want to act on them. Zac is just a nice guy, trying to make me feel better. And I’m a fucking fool for believing him. 

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Zac & Mia shows us a lot more about having cancer. From the more medical parts in hospital, to the alienation of friends who just don’t understand what you’re going through, to the pity that people give you, it’s all there. Even if you feel like you’ve read the YA cancer book, Zac & Mia will offer you a different perspective, focusing on friendship as the grounding factor.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thank you to Text Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. 

xoxo_jeann

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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49 responses to “Contemporary YA Reviews #2: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid & Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

  1. It's a shame about Let's Get Lost because I have been wanting to read it for a while. It looked generally good – and some people love it while others hate it. I like good books but they do need to be meaningful and have some point, not with characters making wrong decisions.

    As for Zac and Mia… well I read the Fault in Our Stars and didn't love it or hate it. But this looks more promising and I hope I can get it and enjoy it more!

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  2. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you finally read Zac & Mia and I wish I was able to meet the author, I got a beautiful signed message from them too. Zac was so lovely and Mia even though she was a bit of a brat she went through some awesome development.

  3. Yeah, Let's Get Lost really lost us with all the hype 🙁 Just a shame it was different to what I expected. I do hope you read Zac & Mia, glad to hear you like the sound of it! thank you Marianne xoxo

  4. Thanks Kelly, I am so proud of our Aussie YA talent, almost all of the books are fantastic! I did think it actually showed us the negative effects of cancer and made us think about it as well. But there was something uplifting about it too, as you said.

    I was the same of Let's Get Lost, how she was revealed at the end of the story was too little, too late you know?

  5. I'm so sorry that you didn't enjoy Let's Get Lost at all – I adored that book. But then I think young folks constantly make stupid decisions (I remember many of my own) and that's part of the point of the story to me. But I also loved it because I took a solo trip across country when I was 18 so it made me nostalgic.
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  6. Great reviews Jeann, totally agree. I loved Zac and Mia and I don't see how it can be compared to that OTHER YA cancer book, it had a completely different feel and put a more positive spin on cancer and I enjoyed that we got to see the medical aspects and how it effects family members as well. Let's Get Lost was a great concept, but it fell down a little for me too. The characters were just fleeting and I just couldn't relate to any of them. We didn't get a sense of who Leila was until the very end as well, which really made me detach from the whole storyline. I'm sorry you couldn't enjoy that one more, I think that maybe if it had of been longer and tried less to be quirky and adventurous it might have worked better. Fabulous reviews <3
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  7. YES to everything you said about ZAC AND MIA. It's so beautiful, and I absolutely adored the fact that it was about Zac and Mia as separate people, but also about them bonding on a level that goes way deeper than simple romance. Their connection was incredible and heartbreaking and beautiful AND GAH. I am so so glad I read this book, but I kind of wish I had read it before I met the author so I could have fangirled to her about how much I simply adore Zac.

    He is such an amazing character and I love him.

    ZAC AND MIA is such a good book, and I think it deserves way more recognition because it's just gorgeous.
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  8. I know, I wish there was more to it as well, it could have been tied together a lot better. And I couldn't relax while reading it because I kept on being incredulous throughout.

    Yay, I'm glad you added Z&M to your TBR, it's a great book 🙂

  9. Yeah, I'm the same, especially in a contemporary when they do that. There were just so many stupid occurrences in the book. Yay, I hope you do check out Zac & Mia, it was a really good read.

  10. I know, a lot of the reviews on Let's Get Lost are quite lukewarm, and I can see why. It was definitely incohesive, especially since it barely linked it back to the main character. Too bad, I can see why you would be annoyed by Mia.

  11. I know, I was really trying to enjoy a road trip story but it was pretty lame. Yeah, instant love is never convincing I think.

    I can see why you wanted to avoid another cancer book after TFIOS, lucky this one wasn't as heart breaking but it was still pretty amazing.

    Thanks Charlotte!

  12. I know, it wasn't even the povs that was a big problem, it was the separate stories with no coherency. It was hyped up so much too which was a shame. Yay, I'm glad to hear more people are loving the sound of Zac & Mia – like me, they probably wrote it off as another TFIOS.

  13. I'm sorry that you didn't like Let's Get Lost! I recently received it on EW and am very excited! I'm really excited to go for it! 4 POVs probably won't bother me unless I don't know who's who. With The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, that was the problem. I read Zac and Mia a while back and thought that it was pretty good. Not as awesome as TFIOS, but still memorable! Great reviews! Contemporary rocks.

  14. I don't think Let's Get Lost is for me. I can barely deal with 2 POVs. 3 max. 4 is a little too much (unless high fantasy) plus even though I love road trip stories, the story.. idk. There's something about it that just isn't for me. I'm sorry you found insta-love and slight irritation between the covers of this pretty. Heh. It's the 2nd great rating I've see for Zac and Mia 🙂 Zac seems like a lovely character to lep Mia through rough times. I'm glad you enjoyed their relationship and watching this emotional story unravel. So happy you enjoyed! Great reviews, Jeann 🙂
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  15. I really had high hopes for Let's Let Lost which did sound sweet and fluffy but I hoped that there was more to it, sadly it seems that it was a really pointless read and I stopped reading pointless books long ago. I mean they aren't generally bad for people who just want to relax and don't think while reading but it's not how my brain works.

    For Zack and Mia I haven't heard much about it and I had no idea it was a cancer book, but it seems so great and I love the sound of the characters. I'm so happy you enjoyed it and I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Great reviews, Jeann 🙂
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  16. Zac & Mia might be the book that entices me back to the cancer books. TFIOS was great but, you know, nobody willingly walks into that amount of heartbreak… at least not without knowing its worth it.

    It's a shame LGL didn't wow. I do love a good roadtrip story told right. 😀

    <3
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  17. Let's Get Lost- Ngaks! It seems like the author was really lost while writing the book. Apparently, the MC too as she made stupid decisions along the way. Talk about feeling so invincible. Argh! Instalove again? All in a matter of 24 hours. Why do authors insist on creating whirlwind romances?

    Zac and Mia- Ah noo! I think my heart has never fully mended after TFIOS broke it. If I'm going to pick up this one, it will surely take a movie to be made first. I have avoided TFIOS like the plague and the only reason I read it was because of the movie. Both book and movie were heartbreaking.

    Lovely reviews, Jeann!
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  18. This is why I haven't picked up Let's Get Lost yet. I just don't think I'd be able to suspend disbelief long enough for me to actually enjoy the novel. It looked like you felt the same way, Jeann, so in case I would ever felt the need to read this, I would really have to lower my expectations. Zac & Mia sounds so promising to me. I'm happy to know about its focus on friendship and finding comfort with another person who's going through the same thing. I'm in the minority here but I didn't really like TFioS so this being lump together with that book made me more hesitant to pick this one up. But after reading your review, I'd really look forward to reading this now. Lovely reviews, Jeann!
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  19. Eugenia @ Genie In A

    I read Let's Get Lost a little while ago, and even though I did rated it a bit higher, it still had its share of problems with not really connecting and some of the weird situations that didn't quite click. I've seen Zac and Mia around at the library, but due to the quite enormous size of my TBR I actually haven't borrowed it yet. BUT – after reading your lovely review next time I get the chance I'll definitely be checking it out – literally 😉

  20. I am sooo definitely reading Zac & Mia. I actually didn't realise it was a cancer book because…um…I always forget to read blurbs. >_< MY BAD. But I'm totally seeing if the library has it! Oh, but I've heard too many dodgy things about Let's Get Lost. Which is sad. It's a cute premise, but I don't do well with so many POVs normally.
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    • Yay, I am so glad you are going to pick it up, it really is an amazing book. A shame Let's Get Lost didn't turn out because there was just something lacking that failed to tie it all together.

  21. I saw all the hype surrounding Let's Get Lost but was not interested. Mostly because the contemporary book and I don't play nice with one another. I did have a weak moment and nearly picked this up but a friend quashed the idea (something about ridiculous decisions made by protagonists' that would make my eyeball twitch beyond normality.) Judging by your review, I'm glad I stayed away! I'll heed the warning. Thanks for the great review, Jeann!
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  22. Zac and Mia sounds lovely, but I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle another cancer book either! D: And I agree, the way Mia seems to be portrayed sounds really realistic for someone her age, especially at a time when teens are constantly worried about their appearance.

    Oh no, sorry about Let's Get Lost, I have to review that soon as well and I've been hearing disappointing things about it. 🙁
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    • I can totally feel what you mean Joy, but I am so glad I finally picked it up! It's so true, Mia isn't very likable but it's so realistic and it's true. Yeah, I hope you enjoy Let's Get lost more than me 🙁

  23. Thanks heaps for the great review, Jeann! I'm glad you finally got around to reading Zac & Mia, though I understand your hesitation…I was reluctant to pick up TFIOS too (I'd finished drafting Zac & Mia before TFIOS came out). But the books are so different and I'm glad that readers can appreciate both separately.

    Keep up the great reviews! AJ

  24. Yeahhhh, I wasn't too impressed with Let's Get Lost, either. Although I did like Bree. And parts of Leila's story. But I agree it was pretty unmemorable. I don't seem to have much luck with road trip books 🙁

    I really want to read Zac and Mia, though! I spotted it lurking around my school library, so I'll have to go check it out. We're allowed to borrow books for over the school holidays so next week will be a perfect opportunity to pick it up 🙂 lovely reviews!!
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    • One of my favourite series of all time (Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine) happens on a road trip – and so does supernatural which is my favourite TV series, but I admit they aren't always awesome. I hope od you check out Zac & Mia, it is such an awesome read! Thanks Emily!

  25. I really enjoy reading these double contemporary reviews — such a great idea! I haven't read Let's Get Lost, though I keep hearing less-than-stellar things about it, so I'm doubtful as to whether I will actually pick it up. I've read Zac & Mia, though, which I really enjoyed! I agree, I was really hesitant to pick up this book because of The Fault In Our Stars (which I loved, though, I just wasn't sure I wanted to read such an emotional cancer book) yet I'm glad I did. Great reviews, Jeann! 🙂
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    • Yay, glad to hear Kara! Yeah, I was looking forward to Let's Get Lost a lot, but it failed to deliver unfortunately. I'm so glad you enjoyed Zac & Mia as much as me, even with the comparison to TFIOS! It definitely offered a different (worthwhile) experience.