Thursday, August 21, 2014

ARC Review: Random by Tom Leveen

Title: Random
Author: Tom Leveen
Publication: Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers
Format: e-ARC, 221 pages
Source: Edelweiss (Thanks so much to the publisher!)
Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo


Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall and Thirteen Reasons Why.

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.
He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.

The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can't help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.

With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…

Misfit Review: 

As you may have noticed, it took sometime before I got back into blogging again. Some of you might think that it was because of school, but it was actually because I was depressed. I'll talk about that in another post. But yeah, I had no motivation to read and Random was a book that I was almost finished with but was too depressed to continue reading. And I should tell you, it's not a book you should read whilst on one.

"The complete randomness of it was the whole point."

Random starts with Tori Hershberger frantic about the next day's trial. She is to be seen in court after what happened with her "friend" Kevin Cooper. She was one of those deemed guilty of Kevin's suicide and Tori is nervous that things won't go well for her. But as she tries to go to sleep, she receives a phone call from a guy named Andy saying that he dialed a random number and wants to kill himself because he has no more reason to live. It's up to Tori to negotiate with Andy into not killing himself because she doesn't want to be blamed for another death.

"Nice, he says."See, that's what I meant. There's nobody anywhere who givesa shit about anybody else. That is exactly my point. This isn't about me, Tori. It's about everybody. Everybody screwing everybody else over and--god, fuck this!"

The story was started nicely, cryptic yet loose. Andy felt like the guy I would rather not talk to because he was so aggressive and demanding. But in any way, I liked that he brought some charm into the story with his dark humor and common sense. He made the story shine. Tori on the other hand was just incredibly annoying to me, which may be what Leveen was trying to achieve with her character but also may be for the fact that she's so gullible and naive. 16 year olds. You sometimes can't blame them for not getting the whole picture. Tori, however, was determined to not let Andy die and I liked that about her though Andy did have a point that she may be doing it only for herself but I noticed a sort of attachment that she had with Andy in the couple of hours that they talked.

I really, really loved the theme of the story which is online bullying. There's this video by Ryan Higa on Youtube that I watched which talked about cyber bullying and how one should not feel anything about it. You can easily just shut it off, deactivate your social media accounts and it's okay. But if you are bullied outside of the virtual world, it does indeed take a toll on you. Kevin was being harassed online by some jocks and popular girls and Tori wanted to be part of something bigger in her senior year which lead her to tease her friend in the process of getting a nod from those people. It made me sick. But teenagers do succumb to peer pressure and Tori was a symbol of the negativity that high school has which is the awful bantering and the discrimination. The harder part of it was that Kevin was going through a difficult time because he was already diagnosed with depression.

But Kevin Cooper had had enough.

Which brings me to my point how difficult it was to read it at the time that I just wasn't okay with myself. It was okay to take in jokes but it was much harder to stomach it in when you can't seem to get that it was actually a "joke". And Tori in her denial and innocent state believes that she had done nothing wrong and that she is innocent. Andy makes it a point for her to see the bigger picture and go face facts. Again, kudos to Leveen for such an upfront yet caring character like Andy. Though there were times I felt like I wouldn't like him, I actually did. Oh yeah! Jack! Jack is the true hero of this story by the way. LOL.

I felt in the first parts like the story was dragged a bit too long with Tori and Andy on the phone, Tori pleading, etc. But then it allowed for different emotions and twists to open up. The twists are the ones to look forward to. I kind of had a OMG moment around a few pages to the end and I liked it.

I chose the simplest. "Bye, Kevin."

Tom Leveen allowed me to be frustrated and hateful of his characters but also made me realize that the struggle is real and that it is okay to hate them as long as there is a reason behind it. It's my feeling. He brought out such diverse characters, with polarizing personalities that made the story work. I honestly thought I'd hate the story mid-way but it definitely delivered. His style is not so ordinary, with Facebook posts and comments part of the story but it also plays around subtlety and hard-hitting moments that you would see in any book about suicide. His characters just made it so worth it!

Random is a book that teaches that even when we do have the freedom to say anything we like, there's always a casualty that comes with it. And it may be something you have to pay for.

About the Author:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Tom Leveen has 22 years of theatre experience as an actor and director. He was the Artistic Director and a co-founder of two companies: Chyro Arts Venue, an all-ages nonprofit visual and performing venue; and Is What It Is Theatre, a community theatre that operated for 13 seasons. Tom lives with is wife and son in the Phoenix area. PARTY was his first novel, followed by ZERO (a 2013 YALSA Best Book) and MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRL, all with Random House. His fourth novel, SICK, a YA horror, will be released in Fall 2013 from Abrams/Amulet.

Remember to check out my review archives which has all the books I've reviewed as well as some of the books you'd expect I will review very soon! This will help you check out book reviews easier. :) YAAAAY! For all the love and support, thank you Misfit Booknerds for everything!

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