Krista Reviews: Tom Leveen’s – “Random”

leveen-randomWho’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…

Hardcover, 224 pages  Published August 12th 2014 by Simon Pulse  ISBN  1442499567 (ISBN13: 9781442499560)

I flew through this book in a very short time. Tori, the main character, had me feeling conflicted throughout the whole story. She is facing a day in court for a bullying case and the possibility of some real consequences, but she just does not feel like she is guilty. Her family is upset and solemn and everything around her is off. Her brother is pissed, and Tori is angry. Unexpectedly, on the night before her hearing, she gets a phone call with a request: a random caller wants a reason to not kill himself.

My favourite character in the story is the random caller. He is upfront and sometimes rude, but what does he have to lose? He’s planning to die anyway, and he doesn’t actually think anybody would have a good enough reason to stop him going through with his plan. Coincidentally dialling Tori’s number turns the night into turmoil.

The reason I would recommend this is due to the way that Tori’s realisations come about through the story. We get to see her going back and forth as she deals with what has happened. We see denial and regret, along with anger and emotional breakdowns, as she works her way through her feelings. Sometimes I felt mad at her, and sometimes I agreed with her and empathised with how tough it can be in such a situation. It really was a thought-provoking story that I’m glad I read.

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