Author: Tom Leveen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Published On: August 12th 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Edelweiss - In exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall andThirteen 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…
First off, let me say that Tom Leveen is a freaking GENIUS! I loved everything about Random… well, except the main character, Tori, but more on that later.
Random is about a girl, Tori, who is being blamed, along with six others, for the suicide of a fellow student because of, as Tori liked to call them, a few ‘joking comments’ they made on a social media site. Tori, now isolated from all her so-called friends who were involved in the incident, feels like she’s innocent. She didn’t kill him… he did it to himself, or so she claims.
The fact that this book is from the perspective of the bully instead of the victim is what really makes it stand out. Even better? Leveen doesn’t try to get you to feel bad for Tori, but rather teaches not only her, but also the readers, a lesson worth learning. Tori may be a bad person, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the readers see that she’s wrong.
That just because she didn’t kill him, doesn’t mean she’s innocent. Random teaches readers that what they say can have fatal consequences, and that no matter how trivial it seems to you, or how much of a ‘joke’ it is, it’s still a crime worth punishing.
Aside from Tori, who I managed to understand, if not totally like, by the end of the book, the characters were very likable. Noah, Jack, and Andy are really the only people Tori still has by her side, but hardly, and they were very admirable for that.
I was blown away by the ending… I should have seen it coming, I think, but it completely took me by surprise, and I absolutely loved it!
Random, despite taking place over a single night and consisting mostly of a phone conversation, felt like a long, some-what emotional, learning experience that not only opened my eyes to something that most people prefer not to think about, but also showed me that the opposite of guilty isn’t always innocent and that your actions, or lack thereof, can have a bigger effect than you think.
I would recommend pretty much EVERYONE read Random. It’s amazing, and while the main character might drive you crazy, it’s well worth it.
About Tom Leveen
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. (Goodreads)