Book Den reviews: “Placebo Junkies”

I do not know what I actually expected from a book titled “Placebo Junkies,” maybe a depressing story about the dangerous risks of addiction, or a story of people fighting their way out of the system they got sucked into. So many ideas crossed my mind when I picked up the book, but I did not expect to read a romance novel. Do not get me wrong, the story did not skip out on any of the gruesome details of dealing with mental instability and addiction, but somehow J.C. Carleson found a way to connect romance to the heart wrenching story that is “Placebo Junkies.”

“Placebo Junkies” follows the gruesome, twisted life of Audie in the system of drug trials. She calls herself a guinea pig – a label for the many people who make their money by lying on medical forms and taking drugs without any clue what effect they will have on their bodies. Audie knows she lives a sickening life, but she also knows she would not survive outside of the system either. In a life filled with depressing moments and sickening side effects, only one things keeps Audio going. Only one person helps her feel the need to wake up in the morning – her boyfriend Dylan. When Audie undergoes multiple drug tests at a time to save up to give Dylan the best gift of his life, she faces more problems than just the side effects of her drugs. She faces Dylan’s ever changing moods, her friends’ disapproval and the most terrifying thing of all – herself.

When I began reading “Placebo Junkies” the initial feel of the book was all romance, all the time – and that came as somewhat of a disappointment. I felt Carleson had such an intriguing topic right in the palm of her hand, and only discussing the romance aspect of the story would let that topic go to waste. Still, with high hopes that something would change, I read on. Even though it may have taken some time, the in-depth story and heart-wrenching moments make up for the slow pace.

Carleson has obviously grasped the understanding of taking on the role of a character. I

fell for the typical, grouchy teenager act that was portrayed by a 30 year-old woman. She used signature moves of a teenager: the eye roll, the deep sigh, the sulking expressions and so many more to create a main character that, even though still had the traits of a teen, understood her way of living and what is takes to survive. The combination of the two contrasting characteristics created that complicated, but also loveable character Audie. Carleson’s use of subtle movements and statements defined each character, making an easier and more enjoyable read.

The only reason “Placebo Junkies” did not make my favorites list only lies with Carleson’s late plot twist. Do not get me wrong, I love a good plot twist, and “Placebo Junkies” really hit the mark; Carleson just hit the mark too late in the book. By this time in the story everything began coming to a lull. Characters began to settle and I began to lose interest, so Carleson suddenly throwing an amazing, story-changing twist my way with only 40 pages left did not give me enough time to emotionally invest myself in what happened. Carleson did everything else perfectly, but she spent so much time explaining and drawing out certain moments, she did not really focus on the biggest part of her book.

Aside from that, Carleson wrote a strong novel. She put together a group of loveable (and hateable) characters, found a topic not many people write about but still captivates the audience and wrote a heart wrenching story with true meaning behind it.