Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: Random by Tom Leveen


Title: Random
Author: Tom Leveen
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: One Star

Description 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 found this book by accident. Honestly, I was looking at Leveen's new release, SHACKLED, when I saw this paperback next to it. The premise sounded like something I'd enjoy, as I like the deep and emotional reads, so I picked it up and took it home with me. Though I was expecting to like it, maybe even love it, the only thing I felt when I finished this one was anger.

Like the Goodreads description says, Tori gets a call in the middle of the night from someone who claims to want just one reason not to commit suicide. Tori, already on trial for having cyberbullied a boy who ended up killing himself, thinks it's a joke. That someone who's been watching the news unfold about what happened has decided to prank her, like so many others have done. But as the night and conversation goes on, it seems less and less likely, and she has no choice but to do what she can to talk the caller out of it. 

But the story doesn't end the way you would expect, and because of this, I am going to use spoilers in this review. Not yet, though. I'll warn you before I do that so that you can choose whether or not you want to continue reading.

I would give RANDOM a very dim star. Just one. Because, while it started out gripping and intense... things happened. And then there are the characters, which I couldn't connect to at all, and for those of you that follow the blog, you know that if I can't connect to the characters, that's a big problem for me when it comes to the book. So, yes. One star. 

Side note: The Goodreads description mentions RANDOM being for fans of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. I have read and loved THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, and these two are not even in the same vein. If that is one of the things that makes you interested in RANDOM, take it with a grain of salt, because the only thing that even remotely channels THIRTEEN REASONS is the suicide element.


Now, I'll go ahead and tell you, more in depth, why I didn't like RANDOM. 

But beware:

****** SPOILERS******

At the end of the story, you find out that the caller never really planned to commit suicide at all. Instead, he is the Boyfriend (I am going to call him Boyfriend for the sake of this review, as I cannot fully remember what his true name was. About this point in the book is when I started getting angry, so I probably just spaced it.) of the kid who Tori helped cyberbully. The one that killed himself.

It turns out that Tori's brother, best friend (Both boys make multiple appearances in the book), and aforementioned Boyfriend knew each other, and concocted this fake-suicide scheme to show self-centered Tori that she could have put an end to the bullying, and that the boy's death WAS, in fact, partially her fault.

What infuriated me is that the two people she trusted most in the world, her brother and best friend, would do something like this to her, instead of sitting down and just talking. Add to it the fact that they both knew that she wasn't really going to go to jail for the boy's death, but that they knew she wasn't aware of that, and wanted to make her sweat it out... uncalled for.

And then, once they explain what they did, she sees it as perfectly acceptable, forgives them immediately, and starts dating her best friend.

Um, what?

As someone who has been on the other side of a phone when someone says they're going to kill themselves, I can tell you that it's stressful. Whether it's over text, IM, social media, or a phone call-- the platform doesn't matter. What does matter is that someone is reaching out to you to help keep them from going through with something that they're seriously contemplating. To make a fake scenario like this and have it be a joke is cruel; to have Tori act like it was a-okay and perfectly acceptable, is unrealistic. And if that IS how someone would respond to a situation like this, with being fine with the betrayal from their brother and best friend... wow.

So this has been my review of RANDOM by Tom Leveen. Have any of you read this one? What were your thoughts on it?

(Un)Happily,
Stephanie

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