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Zero Hardcover – 29 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (29 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375869212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869211
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,979,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Zero is a novel that took me completely by surprise. I expected it to be a typical teenage coming-of-age story - and in some ways it was - but it turned out to be so much more than that. When we meet Amanda, or Zero as she prefers, she's a timid girl trying to figure out what to do next. She's lost her college chances, her best friend and has family problems aplenty. This all seems fairly standard fare, but Tom Leveen manages to give a refreshing take on the situation that helps Zero stand out from the rest in its genre.

I'll admit, Amanda annoyed my for a lot of the novel. She was just so angsty. Obviously she had to be, and it was an honest portrayal, not forced, but sometimes it just felt grating. This complaint resolved somewhat as the novel progressed and Amanda starts to see herself as more than `zero.' Her character development was natural and never felt forced. And the best part - it came from herself! Yes, there was a boy involved, but he wasn't the sole reason Amanda developed.

Speaking of the boy, Mike was interesting. He was a sweet love interest, although I am a bit biased - musical guys are my soft spot. He was a good fit for Amanda, and was so sweet. He builds Amanda up, but not in a creepy, demanding way. He just acknowledges her awesome-ness like it's a fact, and never talks down to her or forces her into anything. Woo-hoo for a healthy relationship being portrayed in YA fiction!

Overall, I found Zero to be a refreshing, sweet read. There was definite depth and growth within its pages and it's more serious than your typical YA contemporary. If you love art, music, or just want to read a quality book, give this one a go.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A worthwhile read for older YA's who like music, art & romance 28 April 2012
By Lucy (Reading Date) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I made some snap judgments about Zero based on the cover, thinking it would be a little dark and gritty for my taste. And while there is a fair amount of art and punk in the book, it is at its core a sweet story about a relationship and finding self worth. I am a sucker for YA books about music so I jumped at the chance to check out Zero. Throw in an artistic, self-deprecating new adult protagonist and I was so on board with this one.

Tom Leveen writes a realistic teenage girl character, one who is self-absorbed and a bit whiny, and dealing with lots of family drama. Amanda's nickname Zero started out as a put-down junior high kids called her because she was the loner art chick. However, it stuck and she decided to own it, and even her own dad calls her Z rather than Amanda, or the dreaded Amy. Amanda has body image issues and low self-esteem and uses humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism. She is a gifted artist and idolizes Salvador Dali, but she lacks the confidence to take her art to the next level. She has one close friend, Jenn, but they have a mysterious falling out. In a big moment of bravery she approaches the gorgeous-eyed drummer of up and coming band Gothic Rainbow, and they begin a relationship.

Mike the drummer is very crush-worthy, sweet and mature, and his scenes with Amanda spark with electricity. He is not a stereotypical rock-musician type at all, and in case you're wondering he doesn't have a Mohawk, as the cover would suggest. Leveen captures the feeling of first love really well, with an awkwardness and obsessiveness that rings true. And even though the two care for each other a lot, they both have a driving passion for their art that demands their attention. Their relationship goes a long way towards helping Amanda's confidence issues, and takes some interesting and unconventional turns. It is also a more mature relationship, both mentally and physically, than found in most other YA books.

Leveen's writing has a lot of personality and includes some humorous asides to the reader. He captures the feeling of being at a rock show, with authentic band and song names. Also, Amanda's passion for her art comes through clearly and she gets lost in her art and makes many artistic references. I liked the feminist leanings of the book too and that the relationship wasn't the only thing in Amanda and Mike's lives.

Zero would be a great book for people that enjoy books about new adults, people who don't fit in, and fans of art, music and romance. Don't judge this book by its cover - there is a lot more beneath the surface.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly fantastic! 23 Aug. 2012
By Katherine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Let me just begin with: wow. Like all the other reviews say, this is so much more than your typical coming-of-age novel. The plot and its characters have so much depth and will drag you right in to the story.

First, I am so impressed by Tom Leveen's portrayal of Zero. She was the high school version (and sometimes current version) of me and every other young girl in so many ways: Sometimes self-absorbed, sometimes overdramatic, usually lacking in confidence, always delightfully snarky, and absolutely relatable.

Also, Mike. As a character, right away he's completely likeable. He's honest, a little awkward, caring, sweet, and supportive - and let's not forget the drummer aspect (swoon)! Then, when you put the two of them together, their relationship completely pops. It wasn't over-the-top, none of that stupid, controlling, obsessive romance. This was just real-life spark and two people fumbling as they genuinely fell for each other.

Finally, the plot. So much woven in here. We have all these bits about Zero's dysfunctional parents, her best friend Jenn, her artwork and career aspirations, faltering self-image, Mike's drive for making it musically, all laced together with thrilling scenes at punk shows. Leveen completely captures the feeling of being at a local concert.

At first, I'll be honest, it was a little slow and it did take me a few chapters to get into it. I considered putting it down, but I'm so glad I stuck with it! By the end I was totally sucked in and riding the chaotic emotions along with Zero. As a whole, it was wonderful. Realistic, genuine, and honest through-and-through. I'd recommend this for anyone who's into music (especially the underground variety), art, or just sweet stories about real-YA-life issues.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Really took me by surprise! 22 Jun. 2012
By BookBreather - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
[...]

ACTUAL RATING: 4.5 STARS

This book shocked me in the best way possible. I don't know what is up with me in artsy contemporary books, but I just fall in love with each one I read. Zero by Tom Leveen is real. It covers the self-deprecating insecurities that come with being a teenage girl, the frightening excitement that comes with all the firsts of falling in love. Add to that a beautiful swirl of art and music, and you have one marvelous novel!

Zero is an artist with some serious insecurities. She thinks she's a cow and her parents are too busy with their constant fighting to help subside those insecurities. She's afraid that her entire summer is going to be wrapped in boredom because she just lost her best friend and she didn't get accepted into her dream college. Mike is the gorgeous-eyed drummer who had a really bad run with his ex-girlfriend. He's more experienced than she is, but the fact that he was previously burned prevents him from really wanting to GO THERE, if ya know what I mean. Actually, if anything, it was the other way around. Zero pressured Mike to do things he wasn't ready for. I could tell from the get-go that, despite his rockerness, Mike is a good guy and that he is going to treat Zero well. He helped her reach for her goals and dreams. He helped her gain confidence and believe in herself. And, not to mention, I'm sort of obsessed with the drums and have a serious thing for drummer dudes.

I loved their relationship. It began with extreme awkwardness, which made it so real and familiar and relatable. And somehow their feelings bloomed into something that manages to transcend that initial awkwardness. There's no instant, "OMG I LOVE THIS GUY SO MUCH AND WE ARE GOING TO GET MARRIED AND MAKE BABIEZZZZZZZ." Their relationship progressed naturally. There are rough spots and there are not-so-rough (soft?) spots. They're not the perfect couple with this unwavering bolt of lightning crackling between them, but they are perfect for each other and each encounter between the two of them made my tummy tumble in a good way. It did annoy me that Zero refused to listen to what Mike really wanted. She was a little self-absorbed in their relationship, not even when it was extremely obvious that something has him down.

There were little things thrown in the pages that I wish would have surfaced more and caused more drama. Instead they just sort of lurked in the background, adding to the overall angst that Zero feels. I really wish that the situation with Jenn, her former best friend, would have come into the light more. It was a great sub-plot and it didn't get enough page time. Also, I feel the whole parent ordeal was elevated just a little more. It was there screwing up Zero's life and whatnot, but maybe just a little more? Is it horrible that I want her life to be just a tad bit more miserable?

The end, though, left me satisfied. The character and plot growth is obvious. The way things turned out was happy, even though there were a lot of little loose threads hanging from the tied ends.

Overall, I loved this book! It has an unflinching, authentic quality that really stayed with me. Some of the content will make younger audiences uncomfortable (except me, because I clearly have no comfort zone). But underneath it all is a novel about branching out and pursuing what seems to be impossible.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strong on so many levels 4 Aug. 2013
By Fellow Traveler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really opened my eyes as to what YA fiction can be. It's meaty. It's well-told. It's well-researched (both in the techniques and concerns of being a visual artist, and in what it's like to be part of the music scene), smart, and extremely human. Leveen does a good job with the female protagonist, who is compelling and a little flawed, and the voice of the whole thing is a lot of fun. Although not central to the storyline, body image issues are dealt with positively here. Definitely read this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Love the Characters 11 Sept. 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tom Leveen's writing is so readable. Great dialogue, smart characters in real settings. Mr. Leveen builds the story so well, it is hard to put down. It is so refreshing to read positive descriptions of teenagers. So much literature for YA is depressing. His characters go through real teenage angst, but give the reader a strong positive image of what is inside. He shows that even teenagers can grow up to be good people. :o)
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