{Review}: Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson


Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson

Stars 3 out of 5

 Genre: Science Fiction
 Pages: 304
 Release Date:October 27, 2015
 Format:Physical copy
 Publisher:Random House








Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.
Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!

But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it.
No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….

Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.


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It has never taken me this long to read a book before. Usually, I read a book within one or two days, but, my experience reading Placebo Junkies is as unique as the story.

This brilliantly written novel explores many different themes such as morals, medical ethics, mental illnesses, addiction, human subject testing and control. That one word, control, is essentially what Placebo Junkies is about. Audie and her friends make a living by becoming “human guinea pigs” not because of necessity but, rather because they have the control of when they work, how much they make, and how much damage these tests are going to have on their bodies. They don’t care about helping discover new drugs to cure diseases, in fact, Audie and Charlotte conspire together to abuse the system and make the most money possible. I was disgusted reading about how people and especially these characters will do anything for money. It’s because of this reason that it took me so long to read Placebo Junkies. When I was reading there was a point in the story were I thought ” this can’t be real, people can’t actually do this to themselves” but, there are people who participate in human subject testing. This is all very real. 

Overall, I did not like Placebo Junkies. I disliked all of the characters,  especially Audie.  Her only motivation in life was getting money so she could go on vacation with her boyfriend. I don’t like reading about people who don’t respect themselves or others and are driven by greed. The plot twist at the end will shed a little bit more light on Audie and her behavior but, it doesn’t make her a more like-able character. I gave this book three stars was because of the plot. It discusses a very important topic that society often tends to overlook.

After reading Placebo Junkies I will now wonder who had to be a “guinea pig” to put this medicine/drug on the market today? YA needs more books like this, where it changes your perspective and provokes discussion. I think that everyone should read Placebo Junkies.

In compliance with FTC guidelines, I must state that I received this book for free and was in no way compensated for my review. Thank you very much Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Placebo Junkies for review.


4 thoughts on “{Review}: Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson

  1. I actually really love Placebo Junkies, mainly for all the reasons you didn’t like it. YA fiction has no shortage of of fluffy happy endings or “raw” books that are really just happy endings in disguise. I loved that this book had rough edges and it was honest, it was nice to read a book with less than perfect characters that did awful things because it made sense to them. This is probably just my mental illness(es) speaking but I understand why Audie did everything she did, to her these trials were the most selfless thing she could have done. I also happen to have experienced the greedy side of pharmaceutical companies and was excited to see a character abuse this. Pharmaceutical companies are probably some of the most corrupt companies in the world, not because of the human guinea pigs but because of the money. It was interesting to read your review, my friend said something similar after reading Placebo Junkies and I was confused on her view point. I think I have a better understanding of it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also agree with you, pharmaceutical companies are unscrupulous when it comes to money. I was simply appalled reading about the testing processes, they people that they prey on and how they simply don’t care about people. All that is important to them is money. I’m glad that you were able to appreciate this story and it’s content. Your comment has definitely shed some light on the characters and their decisions.


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