RANDOM by Tom Leveen


Age Range: 12 - 18
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In a topical thriller, a girl facing legal repercussions for her role in a cyberbullying-related suicide receives a mysterious phone call from a stranger who claims to be on the verge of suicide himself.

The caller, who introduces himself as Andrew, tells Victoria that he dialed her number “at random.” Given the prominence of Victoria’s name in local news, however, this claim seems unlikely. But there is little time for either Victoria or readers to question Andrew’s story within the book’s short, discrete time frame. Andrew is poised to drive his car off a cliff now, and tomorrow morning, Victoria will stand trial for her part in an incident whose details are revealed piece by piece to readers alongside the events of the night. Posts from Victoria’s Facebook wall, along with their comments and “likes,” are reproduced as the story unfolds, though their translation into print feels inevitably clunky. Add in the headline-worthy plot and a few reveals about Andrew’s motivations and the impact of homophobia, and the whole thing smacks of a Very Special Lesson. Nevertheless, the story moves quickly and with genuine tension, and there is enough ambiguity even after the ending that readers can draw their own conclusions about Victoria’s character and level of culpability.

Suspenseful, if also a bit didactic. (Suspense. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4424-9956-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014


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