Mini Review: Random by Tom Leveen

August 23, 2014

Title: Random
Author: Tom Leveen
Publication date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Goodreads TBD
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…
Is it possible to completely dislike a book but still learn a lot from it? Because that's how I feel about Random by Tom Leveen.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how I felt Random's cover revamp was a change for the worse. But that's not all about the book that disappointed me. A lot of things about this story, right from the protagonist to the conclusion and the 'twist' fell absolutely flat for me.

The saddest thing is how I love the whole theme of the book and I realise how effective it could be, but it just doesn't even begin to scrape the limits it could reach.

Six Things You Should Know About Random

  1. It's got a great theme - cyber bullying. I'd heard of cyber bullying before this, of course, but I had no idea it could be such a serious issue. Nor did I know that things like this actually, really happened in real life, and that people, mere children, could be so cruel. So as far as spreading awareness goes, I think Random does a good job.
    As I was reading the story, and especially the quotations prefacing each chapter, it really hit me hard how far bullying could be taken and how drastic and life changing it's after effects could be, and for that, I definitely commend the author.
  2. After completing the book, this is what I thought, "So there goes the title of the freaking book, collapsing under a pillar-less foundation."
    Note: I'm not going to into details with this because that would be a spoiler. But this is very true.
  3. "...perfect for fans of Before I Fall and Thirteen Reasons Why." I haven't read Before I Fall, but Thirteen Reasons Why I have read, and let me tell you, save for the similarity they share in themes, they dont have much else in common. Thirteen Reasons Why was mind blowing and raw and kept you on the edge of your seat. Not so with Random. I just really wanted to finish the book already and be done with it. Thankfully, it's pretty short.
  4. You know how I like all loose ends tied off at the end of a book? Well, Random had quite a few hanging loose after I'd turned the last page; something that couldn't have left me more annoyed. I get that the focus of the book was meant to be on the bullying and how it could affect people, but giving the reader a bit of resolution as far as the premise and the protagonist are concerned couldn't have been a bad thing, could it?
  5. Which brings me to the protag. Dear Lord, she is one tough piece of work. Be warned, she's not a very likable character right from the start, and although I felt sorry for her, I couldn't forgive her almost frequent displays of indifference and callousness. I dont even know if she's actually a changed person at the end, or if all she did was simply to save her own skin. Blah!
  6. The 'twist' was SO NOT A TWIST AT ALL! I could see it coming almost right from the start. But even barring the glaring obviousness of it all, I felt like it defeated the purpose of everything the characters were trying to achieve.
    Note: I know how completely vague that sounds, but bear with me. There's only so much I can say without it becoming a spoiler. 
BOTTOMLINE: Although the theme and general message the book is trying to convey is commendable, in my opinion, it doesn't succeed in it's purpose.

Bittersweet Book Love: It’s messy and imperfect, but it was done just right.

Adventures in Reading: This book was very short, but it was also very fast paced, something that I would have liked a lot if the book itself had been compelling, which it was not.

Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup: I hope books like this, showing the why and how behind the actions of someone labeled as ‘evil’, will help those who are doing the bullying think twice about their choices.