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Placebo Junkies

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  974 ratings  ·  210 reviews
Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.

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 cont
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Malaya Ramos Not that I recall. It's mostly just a nameless "city." Although the author did say she got the idea by seeing a sign on vacation. She did do her resea…moreNot that I recall. It's mostly just a nameless "city." Although the author did say she got the idea by seeing a sign on vacation. She did do her research on this novel, that much she says. It's, not like a creepy pasta, but it is plausible that this is really happening to somebody in the world...(less)

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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  974 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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KL (Cat)
Do you want to be mindfucked sideways till Wednesday? Oh boy, because this is the perfect book for you.

A very accurate portrayal of my brain afterwards
(A very accurate portrayal of my brain right now)

Right, it's no great secret that I have a great love for disenchanted youths (see: The Secret History or The Basic Eight) or novels with unreliable narrators à la Lolita. This is a fantastic mesh of the two! The narrator starts of as a heroine in a contemporary world, then slowly spirals down into ?! ?! ?! and eventually !! !! !!


Forget your p
This was confusing as heck.

I’m not even sure how to word my review, honestly. I guess I’ll stick to the basics.

Audie is a lab rat - or as she prefers a “guinea pig.” She and her friends have offered their bodies up to medical science to receive some moolah. The tests they’re forced to undergo vary. Some are pills, others are skin samples. The side-effects aren’t exactly dandy but money matters, so not one shit is given.

I had a hard time following this story. Audie is an unreliable, intolerable
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This book is captivating, unique, devastating, heartbreaking, and utterly brilliant. I couldn't put it down. The heroine has such a vivid, interesting voice, and the premise is fascinating. But what really takes this book into 5 star territory are the twists and turns. I couldn't stay ahead of it, and in the end, this book ruined me for other books for days.
Stefani Sloma
Nov 09, 2015 marked it as dnf
Yeah, it's been a few days since I read any of this, and I just have no desire to pick it back up. It's not that it's not good, because the concept is interesting, but I don't care about any of the characters. Also, pitching it as like Trainspotting was a bad idea.


Unfortunately, I had to DNF Placebo Junkies. After a few days of not reading it, I had no desire to pick it back up. It’s not that the book isn’t good, because the concept is super interesting, but I didn’t care about any of the
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katy Kelly
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perspective and story you've not heard many times - that of the professional 'lab rat', here told to us by Audie, a rather funny but unreliable guinea pig, whose life is one long series of experiments, procedures, pills and tests.

As a professional 'volunteer' Audie makes a living, as do many of her friends, from volunteering for drug trials. She takes us though the back streets of how to apply, which studies offer the most 'compensation', what side effects are like, though all the time we can
Sierra the Nerdgirl
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book... what can I say about this book. This book was way much more than I expected. I expected a lighthearted contemporary, but boy oh boy did I get more than that. I got a book that although was filled with those lighthearted moments, was so much more involved and darker than I imagined. When reading the beginning, this book seemed like one where the main character was just trying to get her message our there in a humorous way with a lot of sarcasm. She did that for the most part, but at ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
Audie and her friends are pretty much professional lab rats for the large majority of this story. During the beginning, I was kind of into it. Audie was homeless and desperate for money, and so were her friends, for one reason or another. And this pill testing scheme was pretty lucrative, and I guess it beats working in a crappy office? Though, in the crappy office, you probably don't have side effects from anything except boredom, so ye
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 2015

Audie finds herself out on her own after a horrible start to life and she finds that she can support herself with no questions asked by becoming a test subject for medical procedures and drug testing. In this shady world full of people you wouldn't consider looking at twice, Audie finds a family. Jameson runs the apartment they live in and this place is filled with all sorts of characters. She becomes friends with Charlotte who has a master plan for saving her money and getting out of
Madelyn Rose
Apr 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book was fine. I didn't really like it, especially in the beginning. The beginning was hard to follow. There was no character connection and the plot had a ton of holes in it. I couldn't really tell why they were getting the testing. In the beginning, I couldn't understand the symptoms that they were having because it was poorly executed. They didn't say it was from the tests.

However, despite the negative beginning, the book picked up a little when Audie was trying to save money for her and
Anna Ro
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this book the narrator has to figure out the difference between her delusions and reality. Very trippy and crazy and dark. Would recommend, but also does not have a wholesome ending and I am disturbed.
Camille Vargas
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Pick your poison."
Audie is a lab rat. A guinea pig. A human test subject for all the upcoming drugs on the market.
She also writes a sort of a blog to help newbies get into this system. She gives out tips and tricks on how to make the most out of this situation they are in.
It's "easy" money for her and her friends, and with her terminally ill boyfriend's birthday coming up, she's out to rake as much money as she can to surprise him: a holiday on a castle at the end of the world. .
This is an
I can't express how much I enjoyed this book.
Actually, perhaps 'enjoy' isn't the word. It put me in a pretty isolated, claustrophobic place. Living a temporary life of a previously homeless teen pushed to her limits physically and psychologically was a new kind of horror. The intricacies of life as a lab rat was terrifying (although the money for clinical trials is gooood, as a side note).
I ADORED Audie's voice. She was sarcastic and hilarious and cynical in all the right places. Charlotte was
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Audie is more or less a lab rat--she and her friends make their living by participating in medical trials, ranging from relatively benign psychological studies to allowing researchers to remove a chunk of muscle from one's thigh. Most of the trials fall somewhere in between, though, testing drugs for various disorders, whether they have them or not (and they all know how to fake it). Audie's in it for the money, trying to save up enough to take her boyfriend on the trip of a lifetime. There are ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was so excited to read this book. After reading it, I am glad I did check it out but I am a little disappointed with it at the same time. In fact, I waivered between giving this book a three star or a four star rating. I finally decided on a four star. The reason for my hesitation on the rating is because while I found the story itself very intriguing and very realistic. Almost too scary how far people are willing to go for the price of money. It is like participating in these clinical trials ...more
Brenda Zalegowski
I had to push myself to finish this book because the story wasn't doing anything for me (the premise sounded so promising!) and the main character was not only unreliable but also unlikable. I saw another review that said "Do you want to be mindf*cked sideways" and I thought YES! I love books like that. The problem with this one is that the story was boring and completely unbelievable and the characters so unlikable that I was ready to give up before I could even get to the mind f*ck part. When ...more
I wasn't sure what was real, what was a drug induced delusion, and what was a mental break while reading Placebo Junkies. The blurred reality coupled with chapters alternating between the plot and the main character's blog added another layer of disruption. It reminded me of the movie Fight Club. I appreciated the work that the author put into researching the topic and think that it would be a great piece of non-fiction. I didn't love Placebo Junkies, however, but think a lot of teens will like ...more
Jj Montgomery
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Like just about everyone else on here, I read this in one day, one gulp and then sat there, catatonic, bracing myself to re-enter the real world.

The writing is brilliant. And yes, this is a dark story, but there were still moments where I laughed so hard I scared the dog.

Anyone who needs trigger warnings is probably not going to like this book, but if you enjoy a gritty, twisted story—and again, superb writing—this is for you.
Heather Jōb
This book left me feeling disoriented and anxious, with a huge knot in my stomach for the rest of the day- and I mean that in the best way. It's raw and brilliant and gritty, with a powerful voice unlike anything you've read before. ...more
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2015
I haven't read The Fault In Our Stars, but this is the cycnical dark insane version of what I imagine that book to be like. ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it

Title: Placebo Junkies
Author: J. C. Carleson
Pages: 292
Genre: New Adult, Psychological
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This novel is a whirlwind of psychological warfare. I reread the ending and still don't understand what happened. To begin, our girl Audie is a lab rat in it for the money. Subjecting herself to study after study trying to get that extra cash. This is commonly done by those in the scientific field in order to help their peers. But, our girl Audie takes a dive over the deep end and takes o
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
My full review will come soon but this book definitely was not my favorite read of the year. I tried really hard to like it but the confusion at the beginning really threw me off. I had no idea who I was following due to the first person POV. This book is one you will either LOVE or you'll HATE. I am sadly someone who did not enjoy it but don't let that stop you from picking it up! ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I just finished reading this novel and I am blown away right now. Nothing is what is seems.
Kerri Hutcheson
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing


This book is so unique and has so many twists, it was a (pardon my french) a mindfuck to read. I don't think my brain will ever be the same.

There was so many raw emotions in this book and not your typical young reader's read.

Everyone is a little crazy, and sometimes we need to embrace that crazy. So screw 2+2=4. I want my 2+2=5 ending, and boy, did this book give it to me.
Kelly Gunderman
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Check out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

How do I even write this review? Where do I start? This entire book was just…in a world of its own, and the huge twist just threw me for a loop on the confusing-and-way-out-there coaster.

Not saying that’s a bad thing.

bActually, J. C. Carleson had a wonderful idea for this book, and it was executed perfectly.

Let’s start off by talking about Audie for a little bit. She’s seventeen, and she’s a professional guine
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
My review can also be found on my blog, Bittersweet Enchantment

I have one word for this book: Mind Trip.
Okay, so that's two words but you get the point. I guess I could have said, "whatintheheckdidijustreadomgwasthatconfusing". Hmm...that sounds about right. *nods*

I just finished the book last night and I am still trying to process what I just read. Placebo Junkies is one of those books where 50% of the book seems normal enough and then BAM right in the middle you're thrown a twist that makes yo
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This book made me feel like I was on one of the trial drugs Audie was taking. It was crazy and just not at all what I was expecting, but it you it kinda worked.

I will say first that the synopsis is a little misleading. I totally get why, but I'm sort of shocked that this book is being promoted as a drug trial volunteer taking things too far for her terminally ill boyfriend. What this book is actually about is so much more intense, so much darker, and so complex. I think that's why it worked for
WTF Are You Reading?
Reading Placebo Junkies is a lot like staring at one of those Magic Eyes pictures that they used to sell at the mall. Trying with all that is in you, to see the hidden image that you know is there. All the while, not sure what the hell it is that you are spending so much of your time trying to see in the first place.

Audie, has what seems like a pretty normal life; from the outset.

Granted, there is no mention of parental units, of any sort.
Her friends and acquaintances do seem a rather motley bu
Ever since a friend of mine described his experiences in some of the experimental studies to determine the effects of various products on humans, I've been both repelled and intrigued at the thought that this is how some individuals make a living. While I can understand the lucrative nature of such efforts, I also shudder at the risks these test subjects take, and I find myself wondering about medical ethics. So intrigued have I been by this medical underworld that exists just on the edge of res ...more
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J.C. Carleson never intended to be an author. Although she was always a proficient writer of term papers, reports, and other necessary but mundane documents, she didn't consider herself cut out for the creative life.

Nearly a decade as an officer in the CIA's clandestine service changed that.

With her head now brimming with stories of intrigue, scandal, and exotic locales, Carleson was finally ready

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