Review: Zero by Tom Leveen

ZeroZero by Tom Leveen

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 24th 2012
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Library

Synopsis From Goodreads:

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.

I have been wanting to read Zero for a really long time. I just knew it was going to be a book that I would love. Tom Leveen ends up writing a pretty convincing story about a 17 year old girl. How did you do it Tom? Discuss.

The protagonist, Zero, is a 17 year old aspiring artist who dreams of someday becoming a real ARTIST. She has self-esteem issues and has a low opinion of herself - hence the name 'Zero'. It doesn't help that she was accepted, and then rejected, by the art school of her dreams. Zero also had a falling out with her best friend on graduation night. On top of all that, her parents fight constantly and her dad drinks - a LOT - so her home life really isn't conducive to producing art.

When Zero meets Mike, the drummer of a local band, things start turning around for her. Because of Mike she starts to realize her own self-worth. Mike liked Zero for who she was, and he was able to point out that her flaws were mostly in her own head. And in his quiet and encouraging way he was able to help her find confidence in herself and her art.

I really wanted to love Mike because Zero liked him so much. I wish I could have spent more time with him so I could say 'What a great character!' But I did really enjoy him and what he brought to Zero's story. Mike's character was deeper than you would think from a punk rock drummer skateboarder dude - it was there under all the quiet and stillness. He was sensitive and sensible and very supportive, both with Zero and her art and with his own bandmates. Okay, maybe I do love Mike a little bit - or maybe more than a little bit. I'll never tell.

I liked the relationship between Zero and Mike. No insta-love going on here. Their relationship progresses nicely, and while they were really great together, they both had their own thing going on with the art and the music. It was nice to see them have interests and friends separate from each other and not be the only thing in each other's lives.

Zero was a really great read. I kept guessing at how it would end - and I was wrong. The ending was very fitting and just so hopeful, which is what I love about contemporary stories. I also enjoyed the Salvador Dali quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Zero has such a unique voice and personality, and the writing was very clever and original. I even loved Zero's inner thoughts - which are all there in the pages for you to read. I would recommend Zero for older teens. It does have some language and sexual content - a sex scene in a YA book - GASP!!! A very realistic and truthful sex scene that goes along with the story of growing up and finding out who you are.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  1. I've never heard of this one, but it sounds great. Everything about it tells me I'd love it. Zero and Mike seem like great, engaging characters. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Great review!

  2. Zero sounds like an interesting book. Characters with a strong voice you can relate to make all the difference. Thanks for the review!

  3. Wow! New book for me. Thanks for the review, excuse me while I dash off to add to my wishlist.

  4. Great and honest review! I like how it wasn't insta-love. I hate when that happens almost always. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love when you guess how a book ends and it actually ends totally differently! I also think that Zero is a pretty cool name!

  6. I have never heard of this..Definitely going to check it out! Thanks!!


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