Review: Random by Tom Leveen

Book Title: Random
Author: Tom Leveen
Publish Date: August 12th, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble 
Synopsis 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 andThirteen 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…

Disclaimer: I received this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
This book had so much potential to force the reader to take a good, hard look at how they treat others and how their actions can have devastating consequences. I was excited about this one and I wanted to love it so badly, but it just didn’t work for me.

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. I found that I was forcing myself to read this book, in the hope that it would somehow start getting better and better as the book continued.

But I was utterly bored through the majority of it. There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of dialogue to the rest of the book. I wanted less dialogue. I mean, I know lots of dialogue would be necessary for this book, but I wanted more scene setting and descriptive language.

None of the characters really intrigued me either. Tori was a bitch who clearly didn’t understand that, yes, she was partially to blame for the death of someone she knew. Andy & Noah were both boring as hell. The character development was pretty much non-existent. I know it can be hard to develop the characters fully in such a short book, but the author didn’t even try to develop them at all. They were all very one-dimensional, which bummed me out big time.

I thought for the longest time that Andy was screwing with her and that he wasn’t actually serious about his plans to commit suicide. Which of course, enraged me even more. Committing suicide is not something to joke about. Just the idea of that makes me so mad all over again. It’s serious stuff not to be taken lightly. I wish more people would realize that. It’s not a joke, it’s not funny. I didn’t think I would have such a strong negative reaction to this book, but I did.

The revelation at the end also pissed me off. I could not believe that the author took the story this way. It felt like the entire book was a complete waste of time and it made me wonder why the heck I had forced myself to read this book if it was going to end this way. 

This book was a colossal waste of my time and I am so upset because it really had the power to be something fantastic, but it was horribly executed. I’ll be giving this book 1.5 stars.

Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

Book Title: That Night
Author: Chevy Stevens
Publish Date: June 17th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Thriller
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night. 

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

Disclaimer: I received this print ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I was unbelievably excited to receive an ARC of this book. I fell in love with Chevy Stevens’ books last summer so I was eagerly anticipating her newest book. I got a major surprise when I got a package from St. Martin’s Press with this book inside of it. I hadn’t emailed a request or anything, so it really was a shock to get it.

The first 80 pages were really slow and I was upset about that because it was a far cry from her previous books that had just jumped right into the twists and turns. This book spent more time setting the scene. Actually the readers were being told too different scenes. Toni’s jail time and what happened before she ended up in jail. Thankfully, it was written so that there was no confusion on the timelines. I knew exactly where she was in each of the flashbacks.

I felt it hard to drum up any sort of sympathy for Toni. Plus I really didn’t like Ryan either. I actually liked Nicole best, even though we didn’t get to see much of her. Shauna was an awful girl. Both in the flashbacks and in present day.I did get the feeling that Shauna was the ringleader of the “Mean Girls” and that the other girls were probably afraid of her.

I did feel a bit of sympathy when it came to Toni’s parents.I mean, holy crap, her mom was awful to her and I actually found myself defending Toni when it came to her mom. I mean, yes it’s got to be awful to have your youngest daughter murdered, but why turn your back on your oldest daughter? I mean favoritism was clearly shown in this book and that made me angry.

Ryan was so underdeveloped as a character. I wanted to know more about him, his time in prison and who he thought really murdered his girlfriend’s little sister. I think Ryan really got the short end of the stick when it comes to character development. We only heard about Toni’s time in jail, when I know that Ryan’s imprisonment must have been even harder.

Ashley’s appearance felt random. I mean, I know how she was supposed to be connected to the story, but it felt too convenient. I liked her, but I didn’t really understand why she was necessary to the story. At times, it kind of felt like she was an afterthought.

The twist at the end seemed cliched. It felt like it was a twist that I had seen in a dozen other thriller books. So I wasn’t shocked or surprised by it. Actually I was annoyed that the author chose to make this the twist, rather than think outside the box. So I’ll be giving this book 3 stars. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely was not her best book.

Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Title: Independent Study (The Testing #2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Published Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Series: Book 2 in The Testing trilogy (My review for The Testing is here)
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

Disclaimer: I got this book from ARCycling.

Review:
I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the second book in the series. The excitement didn’t last long though and I spent a good chunk of the book, bored out of my mind.

It wasn’t realistic. Cia was supposedly able to handle 9 classes plus an internship and be able to run around campus and still manage to ace her assignments and do well in her internship? Please! I wanted to see her fail only because I wanted to see how she would handle that. Yet they don’t show that. She goes through the entire book, at the top of her class and not getting caught when she sneaks around looking for answers. It was too convenient and unlike in The Testing, I really didn’t like her. She had this I’m-better-than-anyone-else attitude which made me really annoyed and pissed off.

I still don’t like Tomas and honestly I didn’t really like anyone in this book outside of Raffe. I found the characters to be very bland and definitely underdeveloped. I was hoping for more character development and I didn’t get that.The world-building was also lacking significantly and that made it very difficult for me to be able to visualize everything.The world-building was decent in the first book, but it definitely took a nosedive in the second book.

There was no action in it, which really sucks because in books in this genre, there’s got to be some action in order for it to be good and compelling. Without action, this book was nothing more than a fictional political book.

This book suffered the infamous “Sophomore Slump” It was boring, uninteresting and it was a book that I could not wait to finish so I could put it behind me and move on to a better, more interesting book. This book will be getting 2 stars. I am not sure I’ll read the final book in the trilogy.