Zero by Tom Leveen: Book Review

ZeroZERO by Tom Leveen Book Review
Publication Date: April 24th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

Zero by Tom Leveen Book Review Overview:

  • Zero has quite the abrasive personality so it was at first hard for me to like her as a protagonist
  • I just couldn’t relate to the band scene, even though I would have loved to
  • Hopeful and realistic ending

Meet Zero. She’s an aspiring artist. Unfortunately, her lack of self-confidence (and lots of family drama) prevents her from going after her dream: to attend a prestigious art school in Chicago. It’s supposed to be Zero’s fun, laid-back summer before college. Instead, she’s stuck at home with one less friend, living in a house where her parents never stop arguing.

Alright, let me admit it: when I first found out that I was going to be an Ambuzzador for ZERO by Tom Leveen, I thought, “Uh-oh… This is not the kind of contemporary that I read.” And, I’m not going to lie; it’s true. I like sweet, romantic contemporaries and the cover does not give that impression at all. It looks edgy and punk rock and not me. But I was determined to give ZERO by Tom Leveen a shot. And this is one of those cases where I shouldn’t have judged a book based on its cover.

Amanda, a.k.a Zero was a tough protagonist to like based on first impressions. Zero has a pretty abrasive personality and it took me a while to find something about her that I could relate to. At first I couldn’t help thinking, Geez, what a Negative Nancy! Amanda was really overly critical and cynical about almost everything. But once I learned more about her, I understood why she acts that way. After a while, I related immensely with Amanda. Every now and then, a girl feels self-conscious about her body. It’s really only with time that a girl comes to love herself. Furthermore, I really could relate with Amanda’s frustrations with the college system. It is unbelievably expensive nowadays and it’s terrible how the cost of education can prevent one from going after their dream.

Music plays a huge role in ZERO by Tom Leveen. Unfortunately, I’m pretty much the complete opposite of an audiophile. As much as I would have loved to relate with the whole punk rock scene, it just didn’t happen. I wanted to get into the music as much as Zero did but for someone who isn’t into music as much, I think it’s hard to imagine being part of the audience of a concert. There are so many mentions of different bands in ZERO by Tom Leveen and my music knowledge is so limited that I couldn’t tell if they were real or fake bands. (I never really did find out…) However, I do think it would have been awesome to have actually heard some of the songs that Tom Leveen had written for the book.

Furthermore, there is a pretty realistic romance in ZERO by Tom Leveen. Mike is pretty likeable and I think he is one of the things that was key for Amanda’s character development. His encouragement to push her to follow her dreams as well as his own passion for his music really helps prioritizes Amanda’s goals in the near future.

ZERO by Tom Leveen also touches on a little bit of LGBTQ issues in the form of Amanda’s best friend. Initially, I thought Amanda was homophobic, but after I kept on reading I thought her reaction to be quite normal. It doesn’t matter if Jenn is straight or gay. If it had been me and one of my friends (guy or girl) I think I would have been freaked out at first if I really didn’t see it coming. I’m glad how their friendship developed in the book.

Lastly, art is essential to the book. If you’re not familiar with Salvador Dali, or have never even heard of him, go look him up on Wikipedia before reading ZERO by Tom Leveen. I think it’s important for a reader to at least be familiar with some of the works that inspire Amanda so much in the book.

While I enjoyed reading ZERO by Tom Leveen quite a bit, I think what makes this book different from a four-star book is memorability. I just don’t think that ZERO by Tom Leveen will leave a lasting impression on me, despite the fact that I liked reading it. The ending of ZERO by Tom Leveen was perfect. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with Amanda and I was really glad on how much she had matured over the course of the book.

I would recommend ZERO by Tom Leveen to readers who love contemporary novels – especially those about art and/or music.

Other Book Reviews:
Dreamland – Teen Fantasy
Wear the Old Coat

About the Author

Tom LeveenTom Leveen was born and raised in Arizona, where he lives with his wife. Party is his first young adult novel. Tom was previously the artistic director of Chyro Arts Venue, an all-ages performance space hosting live music, theatre, visual art, and independent film, where he enjoyed watching new, YA bands taking the stage for three years.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

1 Comment

Leave a Reply