by Lesley Choyce
With a tagline of "If you think life makes sense, do not read this book" how could I resist?
It’s this credo that sixteen-year-old Joe Campbell lives by. You see, his birth parents were killed in a car accident, and four years later he’s still trying to work his way past that loss. His new parents are as supportive and loving as he could wish. But Joe is still trying to figure out whether there is any pattern or purpose to his existence, and remains doubtful that there is an answer.
Yet all around him patterns and purposes gradually take shape, and this compelling novel traces the thought processes and the people that eventually make a difference in Joe’s life. The story is of Joe’s digging into his past, and looking around the present, as he seeks to make sense of the world. But it’s not a solitary quest as his good friends Gloria and Dean – both outsiders in the high school they all attend – accompany him on this quest for meaning.
My Expectations: I haven't read a single review about it, so just going on the summary, I hoped it would surprise me :)
Delivery: There were both pros and cons, but still enjoyable
Random is a novel narrated completely (and I somehow compare it to 13 Reasons Why) through "digital diary entries", basically Joe is recording his thoughts, ideas, story etc. on a digital recorder. Because of this style, the tone of the novel is different and really feels like a one-sided conversation/expression of thoughts as opposed to something traditional.
What I really liked about this 'format' (if you can call it that) is how well the writing flowed. It's devoid of awkward phrases and the conversational tone was easy to keep up with. However, I felt the voice was slightly generic, I would definitely have liked something more distinctive and unique to it, something that would set it apart. Joe Campbell's voice is kind of unmemorable, but that doesn't mean his story is not.
You know what? I really like Joseph Campbell. Why? Because he is interesting! I don't say that lightly, I was genuinely interested in his various ideas, his friends, and especially his views on philosophy and life in general. I only wish there were less tangents or rambling because it took away from the story and could potentially bore me at times. That said, with a tragic past, Joe could easily have fallen into emo-angst teen, but he didn't, he seemed very normal (seriously, that's a good thing) and of course, unsure about life. Sound familiar? *points to self*
I thought Choyce did a lovely job creating supporting characters as well, Mom-2 and Dad-2 were both very likable, as were Gloria and Dean, Joe's friends. Each of his friends had their own crisis so it wasn't all about Joe (very refreshing) and the way Joe's friendship evolved as the people close to him changed was very telling of his character. The character growth exhibited by our boy Joe wasn't glaringly obvious, but I thought the subtleties made it more special... because let's face it, it's not always a Eureka moment.
Random is a unique tale of an every-teen (is that a word?) who has his issues but speculates the unknown, questions existence, and stumbles (like most teens) through life. A relatable, interesting and refreshing read.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: teens, boys, people looking for a shorter read, different narration style
Acknowledgements: just a dedication, which is fascinating, 4.5/5
7/10 - because I thought it was pretty enjoyable. I really liked the narration and the writing, but I felt the plot was lacking and there were one too many tangents of thought. I enjoyed most of Joe's ramblings, but sometimes it did feel a bit much, and I was hoping the story would move a bit faster. There are likable characters and overall, I felt it was... calming. A nice change of pace from the bang bang action, I really liked the themes and the ponderings of Random.