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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Party* by Tom Leveen- young adult book review
by Tom Leveen
Grades 9+ 240 pages Random House April 2010 Hardcover    

ĎIt's Saturday night in Santa Barbara and school is done for the year. Everyone is headed to the same party. Or at least it seems that way. The place is packed. The beer is flowing. Simple, right? But for 11 different people the motives are way more complicated. As each character takes a turn and tells his or her story, the eleven individuals intersect, and reconnect, collide, and combine in ways that none of them ever saw coming.í
I love anything where different people intersect and have an impact on each otherís lives (think Lost, Crash, Love, get the gist), so Party sounded like a great read for me.

Each of the eleven characters has their own chapters, retelling different scenes from the party from their perspective. Each time a few details change, new events are revealed, and we learn a little more about what actually happened at the party and the reason each character had to attend. Some of them are there for purely superficial reasons Ė to try and score with a hot girl or guy or to celebrate the end of the school year - but others are there for deeper reasons: to see if anybody would even notice she was there, to get revenge on an ex-girlfriend.

In a relatively short space of time, Leveen manages to create a number of vivid characters who really ring true and, even though the novel only takes place over a couple of hours, so much is revealed about each person through tiny, subtle details that show how much the writer cared about this book. Itís a great read, and Iíd happily read it again Ė and probably notice a lot more things that I missed out on first time round.

In Party, things are never quite as they seem. Iíd read a scene, take an instant dislike to a character because of the way they acted, then find myself seeing things through their eyes a few chapters later and siding with them.

Party is full of ups and downs, arguments, crying, fights sex and alcohol - a typical teenage party. While Iím personally glad Leveen didnít gloss over these elements, this book may not be entirely suitable for younger readers because of the content. None of it is explicit but it is there, so be warned.

I said that Leveen creates a number of vivid characters in Party. The only problem I had with the book is with the rest of the characters. Sure, out of the eleven people we focus on, there are probably five or six who are really well-written and memorable. Unfortunately, the rest fade into obscurity as soon as the story is finished.

Many of the characters are there just to bulk out the story and provide another point of view but have no depth, no real back story of their own and nothing to really contribute except a few one-liners and some vague observations of the party.

The climax really touches a nerve, and I did find myself welling up a little. Itís a very sweet, delicate way to end a fast-paced race of a read. Iím glad Leveen gave us the extra chapter at the end to slow the pace down and recuperate.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Carly Bennett/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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