YA Contemporary Fiction

My Book Review: Party: by Tom Leveen

Publish Date: April 1st 2010
Number of Pages: 240 Pages
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Genre(s): YA Fiction

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

This title is probably what I consider to be one of the most underrated titles out there, whether within the YA genre or fiction in general.

What It’s About:

It has a simple premise: it revolves around the intertwining lives of high school students as they go to a party on a friday night in Santa Barbara, California. It’s a contemporary novel with an astounding 11 different perspectives of a single night! You don’t see that very often in any fictional story, and as you dives into the book, you get inside the heads of all these different characters and learn what they’re really thinking as the night escalates.

Basically, everyone has a reason to be there, and some are more meaningful than others: to say “screw you” to their parents, to hook up, to forget, to find the girl, to make friends, to support someone in need, or to say goodbye…

Everyone has a reason to be there that night.

What I liked:

  1. The Multiple Perspectives! I have found that I love storylines with multiple narrators and tells what’s happening from their perspectives. Some have their own preconceived notions of what occurred or what rumors are flying around about someone, and in another chapter the reader gets the truth. For the most part, I liked all of the characters, some more than others, even if some of them didn’t really add much to the story. Below is a summary and my opinion of all the characters:

Beckett: Easily the most likeable of the characters and has one of the more tragic background storylines of the story without it being too over the top. I could relate to her personality as one who’s more closed off to others, but she does seem lost in her own world, and is unable to see anyone else’s issues going on.

Morrigan: The typical mean, pretty, and bitchy girl. Of course, she’s not all that likeable, in fact she’s annoying as hell, but she does grow on you as the story develops. Her parents are actually the worst, and I’m glad mine were never like that, and it makes the reader gain some sympathy towards her.

Anthony: He’s a very complex character for me. Without giving too much away, he’s involved with a racism storyline, and it turns out making him look like the big mean jock who’s a bully. The reader is supposed to hate him until they read his chapter and then the terrible situation with Azize makes sense, and it becomes more complex. Both sides become understandable.

Azize: I felt so bad for poor little Azize. He just wanted to go to the party to try and make a friend, and he’s an extremely nice guy. His issue was dealing with racism in a post-9/11 world, and has a big scene with Anthony as the climax. For that scene, I’ll just say perspective is a powerful thing.

Tommy: He’s an extremely minor character in the overall story, his chapter didn’t do much besides set up Josh’s storyline. He goes with all of his buds in support of Josh who was dealing with a bad breakup with Morrigan.

Brent: To tag along with his best bud, Max, in order to possibly help him find the girl with the weird hat and finally ask her out, and why not rub shoulders with the top of the social food chain? He’s another minor character, kind of an elitist douche trying to climb the social ladder, he pretty much only set up bigger storylines.

Daniel: Another minor character, served as an outside perspective towards bigger storylines, so there’s not much of an opinion on him.

Ryan: He was a reluctant character to like. At first, his reputation is that he’s a total player, a man-whore, you name it. What’s different is that he changes when you read his chapter (again, the power of perspective). His main story arc was to hook up with whatever random hot girl caught his eye that night, but only because that’s what everyone expects from him, and part of him is sick and tired of having to live up to reputation that others dumped onto him. He likes to think he’s more than just what others think of him as, but can’t seem to be able to shake it.

Josh: Josh gets dragged out to the party while dealing with a bad breakup because of his religious views. I felt bad for him and found him relatable: a decent guy who feels like he constantly gets berated for doing the noble and right thing but the whole world is out to get him; the nice guy who finishes last.

Max: I liked him a lot. He simply wants to seek out that mysterious girl with the weird hat and finally try to ask her out, so he goes to the party with his friend, Brent, with the unlikely chance that she will be there too. His chapter was incredibly sweet. Why can’t there be more guys like him out there?

Ashley: Her purpose was to be the supportive best friend, but loses her cool when her ex best friend, Beckett, shows up to the party unexpectedly. She’s popular, but not with the queen-B status. She’s friends with just about everyone, and everyone likes her, and she even has a few unknown suitors that are after her affections. She’s also the mediator of pretty much every conflict in the story and helps resolve a lot of them. She’s like the mom of the group; she stays back, shakes her head at everyone’s mistakes, but will swoop in to help clean up the mess every time, because that’s just what a good friend did.

What I didn’t Like:

  1. Lack of Depth…There definitely is deep subject matter within the story, but the way its initially presented appears shallow and just full of teen angst. The author tries to talk like a teenager, so there are additions of stuff like “and stuff,” “um…,” “and something” and other little speech quirks like that to try and make it feel genuine and almost like reading a diary entry, but it just makes the story feel more juvenile.
  2. It’s So Short…This is an easy book to fly through, and its very short in terms of page numbers, so the reader could easily complete this book in one sitting if they get into it. Personally, I wish it was longer! I wanted so much more to happen, like for each characters to show their resolutions go further and feel more complete. Quite a bit can feel like it’s left up in the air, and there’s a sort of mysterious beauty to that, but I still wish we had more to go on to see how things will change for more of the characters past the party and all that happened during it.

Conclusion:

Overall, an enjoyable read that revolves around a simple setting: a high school house party. I think this book is so amazing and so underrated, but it’s a mostly unheard of title that’s never been on the bestseller list, but that shouldn’t detract anyone from reading it! Personally, I think this story can relate to just about anyone in any way, shape, or form so long as they give it a chance.

The important message to take away from this title is the power of perspective, and similar to Jay Asher’s bestseller 13 Reasons Why, we truly don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives and how important one simple little interaction can affect those around us. We all have our own stories, struggles, and baggage that weigh us down on a daily level, but sometimes if we take a second to try and look at everything from the view of someone else, things are not just black and white, and how complex even a total strangers life can be, even as they pass us by in a single moment of time.

I think Party by Tom Leveen is a great title that can really teach people that things are never as they appear in a non-magic, totally contemporary way, and that there multiple sides to everything, so we shouldn’t just jump to conclusions. It’s been an inspiration for many projects I’ve worked on over the years; a perfect example is my senior thesis project at college, which can be found in my Writing tab up on the main menu! The title is “TGIF!”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

1 thought on “My Book Review: Party: by Tom Leveen”

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