Book Review: Head Case By Jennifer Oko

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Meet Olivia Zack, neuroscientist, pharmaceutical consultant—and murder victim.

A humorous mystery from an author whose work has been called “simply riveting” by The New York Times and “sharp and fast-paced” by Publisher’s Weekly—it’s Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones meets Carl Hiaasen’s Nature Girl (with a dash of Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money) as Olivia embarks on a postmortem quest to deconstruct the events that lead up to her mind-altering death.

A comic satire of the influence of the psychopharmaceutical industry on American life, HEAD CASE takes Olivia and her estranged friend and roommate Polly Warner on a collision course involving ethically challenged executives, spotlight-hungry celebrities, third-rate mobsters, and drug-dealing babushkas. A smart and savvy page-turner, HEAD CASE explores the meaning of personal relationships, emotional intelligence, and mental health while taking the reader on a synapse-stirring, neurotransmitting rollicking ride.

17160117I enjoyed this 54 chapter book. It was told through Olivia’s first person point-of-view. She was murdered so it’s actually through her ghost’s perspective. It was pretty cool that she could access other character’s memories, showing a full picture of what lead to the hit on her life. Polly, her best friend, was a very important person in Olivia’s life; therefore, sometimes it seemed like Polly’s life was discussed more than the main character. As a reader, I understood the reasoning behind it from Olivia’s explanation.

My favorite lines: 1) My body froze–not just in the sense of standing still, but like I had just taken a dive into a snow bank. A stinging, prickly freeze. 2) I get to play the role of wise sage, and with an amazing perspective. Because when you die, not only can you flit around the present, you also get to watch stuff in rewind. 3) …What would you do if you were locked in a New York city taxicab with only fifteen minutes left to live? What issue would you want to resolve?

I loved Olivia’s sarcastic sense of humor. It made sense that she’d be bitter over her death. It was scary when she drove in the cab and the driver went in the wrong direction, locking the doors. Chills went down my spine. The spookiest events are the ones that can happen in real life.

I liked that the story focused on the conspiracy in pharmaceutical’s R&D (research and development)–how they hid the negatives of side effects and made up lies in order to focus on marketing. I could definitely see this happening in real life.

I thought the author did a great job with characterization. They all had good and bad qualities, all three-dimensional. I liked that Olivia and Polly weren’t Mary Sues. They got a hold of prescription medicine to sell to celebrities. Even though they were drug dealers, Olivia didn’t die directly from that life of crime.

  • It was good that Polly was determined to investigate her best friend’s death, to not settle for a “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario the news tried to spin. Her and Olivia had their disagreements before she passed away, so Olivia appreciated that Polly still had her back. A bittersweet moment that they could never officially make up.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

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Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby