Review: Random by Tom Leveen

Title:  Random
Author:  Tom Leveen
Series:  None
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Publication Date:  August 12, 2014
Pages:  217
Format/Source:  ARC/From Publisher
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary

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…(Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

Lots of Potential…

I like the idea of seeing a bully case from the view of the bully.  I think it’s interesting to see why people do the things they do, and to see what makes them tick, even if I don’t agree with their actions.  And I know that there are lots of bullies who grow up to really regret their actions, and that sometimes even the best of people can be bullies.  It’s kind of an eventual part of childhood, that you’re either the bully or you get bullied, or even both.  I’m not excusing it at all–I hate bullying and I think we really need to crack down on it.  But I think it’s interesting to see other sides of any situation.

That all being said, I guess I thought that Tori would already be extremely upset about the fact that a guy killed himself because of things that she and her friends said about him online.  I especially thought she would regret it and be upset because she used to be friends with the guy.  She wasn’t really friends with him anymore, but still.

But no, Tori says “What’s the difference?” when her brother asks her if she’s sorry for her actions, or just sorry that she’s in trouble.  And she continues to be extremely judgmental throughout the book, especially about her brother. She wants to take him shopping to get him “real” clothes, and says things like “hot guys generally don’t hang out at comic book shops.”

I knew pretty early on in this book that this was going to be one of those narrators that I didn’t like, but I understand that this might have been Leveen’s point.  But I also feel like Tori didn’t really redeem herself enough for me to care about her at the end.  Random was a quick read and an interesting one, but I feel like there was so much more that could have been done.

My rating for Random by Tom Leveen:

2 stars–maybe more like 2.5.  I think Random had some major potential, but it just fell flat.

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Simon & Schuster
Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

1 Comment

  1. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    July 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    The plot still intrigues me enough to want to give it a try. You might want to try Tease for a book from the bully's pov. I felt the mc in that book was very authentic, especially for her age. Like most teens, she wasn't just the hero of her own story but rather the victim of her own story. It's a slow process, but she eventually starts to learn some self awareness- which is the one thing I think most bullies lack. If you don't even know why you're doing the things you do, or saying them, then probably you're not able to appreciate the damage you're doing to others.

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