PARTY by Tom Leveen

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 – one character per chapter – the eleven individuals intersect, and reconnect, collide, and combine in ways that none of them ever saw coming.

Examining friendship, dating, racism, sex, loss, and parents who truly don’t get it, PARTY invites you to join in the fun and drama of the biggest event of the year. Everyone’s invited. See you there!

PARTY is a young adult fiction novel, and the first published book from author Tom Leveen. While I’ll read comic books all day long (and have, many days in the past), I’m not the most voracious reader of “real” books. However, I’ve been friends with Tom for at least half a decade (and I’ve known him for longer… at exactly which point we became “friends” is up for debate). I’ve been to nearly every play he was involved in at Chyro Arts Venue, and even acted in one, last summer. And since I’m all for supporting my friends, I had to pick up a copy of his first book.

Though I’ve owned the book for a couple of weeks, it’s been sitting in my pile of things to read since the night I brought it home. Unlike comics, which I can get through in 10 minutes or so, actual books require slightly more free time to devour. So, yesterday morning, I decided to hack away at the first couple of chapters of PARTY, just to have gotten started on my buddy’s book. Except things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

I picked up the book, and started in on the first chapter.

The basic premise of PARTY is that there’s an end-of-the-year party in Santa Barbara, and each chapter of the book is a piece of that night, as told from the perspective of a different character. The first chapter is told by Beckett, a lonely girl whose mother’s health issues have been haunting her and all but completely destroyed Beckett’s social life; Beckett is unsure if going to the party is a good idea or not. The second is from Morrigan, who is now best friends with Ashley, Beckett’s former best friend; “Morry” is GOING to the party, whether her neglectful parents like it or not. The third chapter is told by Tommy, who is best friends with straight-edger Josh, whom Morrigan had dumped just a week earlier because he wouldn’t sleep with her; Tommy and the guys want to bring Josh to the party so he can have a good time after being depressed all week. The other eight chapters all bring together the other major players in the book, each with their own reasons for being at the party.

As the events of the party unfold, the characters and their stories all interact and intertwine with each other in a way that is completely natural, and nothing about the book felt forced at all.

And it was because of Tom’s amazing way to not only entangle these characters together, but to also give them each their own unique voice, that I was unable to stop reading. What began as a mission to only read a couple of chapters turned into, “Okay, well I’ll just read half the book,” into, “Shit, what happens next?!” into, “Well, there’s only one chapter left.” Other than the break for lunch, I got through the entire book in one sitting.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody who loves complex, intertwining stories – Anybody who follows the overarching stories of the Marvel or DC Universes would enjoy this book. I’d also recommend it to people who are fans of high school TV shows and movies – Saved by the Bell, Daria, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, etc. Each of these characters feels like they could’ve been dropped right into any of those shows and had a memorable episode that centered on them.

There’s a trailer for the book, as well as more information about it, available on Tom’s website:

Because the book was published by Random House, it’s available at pretty much every major book store. We also have a handful of copies at Comic Zone, so if you’re in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, come on in and pick up a pre-signed copy from us!