Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: Random by Tom Leveen

My Rating: 3 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: August 20, 2014

Source: Read free on Pulseit

Publication Date: August 12, 2014

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

Summary (taken from Goodreads):  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…

I have to be honest - this book didn't do much for me. But I also don't think I'm the target here. This was geared more towards teaching a lesson than anything, and for certain people I think it will help. I'm just a little sad that this book didn't get past saying, "You shouldn't bully."

At the beginning, we meet Tori and she seems desperate and innocent. I was almost thinking that maybe she hadn't done anything. There could have been false accusations of some sort.

Then we learn what happened. We see the Facebook pages, the chats where she and so-called "friends" made fun of Kevin. People tell Tori again and again - sometimes subtly, sometimes straightforward - that she was wrong. She continuously denies it. Why? Because she "didn't kill him."
Because she was joking. Because people get picked on all the time and that makes it okay. Because Kevin should have been tougher.

I feel like she deliberately missed their points. And I understand that, because how hard would it be to know you caused a suicide? I even understand her anger towards Kevin, her putting blame on him. It felt like a natural reaction to me, and very realistic.

Really, I just expected more from this. More than, "Oh, hey, I'm lucky to be alive." More than endless apologies that didn't feel real. It's awful to me that Tori knew Kevin, but didn't seem sad for him. Only for herself. And until the end, it felt like that was all she cared about.

Overall, it was a quick read. I was hooked from the beginning, although the last 20% or so took a turn I wasn't expecting - and not in a really positive way. The twist was great, but afterwords it seemed to go downhill. There were so many questions left unanswered, and finding those answers were the main reason I was reading the book. It also didn't have the emotional aspect I was looking for - I didn't feel Tori's pain, or her guilt or sadness. It made her difficult to relate to.

I did like Noah and Tori's brother, though. The way they stuck by her was admirable and I did enjoy the loyalty shown throughout the story. I also think this carries a message that will stick with some readers. It just didn't feel genuine to me. It almost seemed like Tori saying sorry for the hundredth time and half meaning it was enough - although to be fair, I think she was supposed to actually feel sorry. It just happened too fast to feel realistic.


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