Party by Tom Leveen -
3.5 out of 5 stars
It'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.
I was really attracted to the idea of this book. One night told through the eyes of eleven different people sounded cool. It turned out that it worked pretty well. Each character that narrates only has one chapter and the night moves more or less forward as each chapter progresses although sometimes a narrator will start their story earlier in the night and then move forward to whereever the last narrator left off at the party.
Some of the chapters were really great, with a fully realized narrator giving us insight into their lives as well as the party itself. Morrigan is one who stuck out to me as particularly authentic and complex. When Leveen is on, he's really on, painting portraits of kids that you feel like you know. Unfortunately, not every chapter is as interesting. There's a lot of internal dialogue in each chapter and some of them are fascinating while others are kind of boring. Several of the boy characters are very similar in voice and with eleven characters, I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and who did what. Especially because one character would mention something in passing that would involve a character that had already narrated, but never got to that point in the night. I did a lot of flipping back and forth to see who said what, when which was a little frustrating - but that's just me. You might be able to follow along much better than I did!
At the very beginning Party sets up a sort of "mystery" that you then read through the whole book to get to, with lots and lots of other stuff unfolding along the way. It was enough of a set up to keep me reading but there were some chapters I wanted to skim or skip over just to find out the ending. Overall I would say this is an ambitious effort that's handled well and populated with some of the most realistic teens I've seen in YA in a while.
Cover: I think the cover is a good representation of what's in the book and it's eye catching. If anything, with all the white in the background, it makes the photos seem like they're posed, which is kind of weird but other than that, it's a pretty cool cover.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5