Random by Tom Leveen
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“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…”
You know, I try to be a compassionate reviewer. I try to keep in mind that any book that I review is the product of someone’s hard work, and that as such it deserves a certain measure of respect. Because of this, I try not to write snarky reviews. But very occasionally, a book comes along that, in my humble opinion, deserves some snark.
Mr. Leveen, are you serious? Are you really serious? Are you actually trying to make me have sympathy for a bully; moreover, are you trying to make me sympathize with a bully who helped drive someone to suicide?
No. No, no, no, a thousand times no, with “no” sauce and “no” sprinkles, and a side order of “NO”.
Now, I’m not saying it can’t be done. I firmly believe that people can change, can understand that something they did was wrong and take steps to improve themselves so that they don’t do it again. But for heaven’s sake, this story was not the way to do that!
Yes, this is the rare sight of the owlcat rageflailing all over the place in an attempt to convey just how much this book ticked me off.
The entire book takes place in the night before Tori’s appearance in court to stand trial for the cyberbullying death of a longtime friend of hers. Flashbacks to Facebook conversations show the slow evolution of Tori from a friend to a LOL-ing cheerleader of the bullying he’s receiving. Throughout the entire book, Tori displays a disgusting lack of empathy, as well as an adherence to her self-centered worldview. She chases after the mystery guy on the phone not because she cares, but because her number is on his phone and she doesn’t want to get in even more trouble. She consistently asserts that what she did to be popular was worth it.
It’s not until the book’s final pages that Tori displays even a modicum of remorse for her actions, and at that point, it’s too little too late. I didn’t care about the little twit. Is some of this informed by the fact that I was bullied in school? Hell yes. Guess what? It doesn’t change the fact that this character has no redeeming qualities.
I will say this: the novel is not badly written. Under any other circumstances, I might have liked it. It’s got some good suspense, and the interstitials with the Facebook excerpts was done pretty well. But a bad main character sunk the entire thing.
If you want a worthwhile novel on bullying, go read Thirteen Reasons Why. Avoid this book like the plague. This is not the message to send to teen readers.
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page Count: 224
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as a free read on Simon PulseIt
Read an excerpt