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Random Acts of Senseless Violence


3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,078 ratings  ·  290 reviews

It's just a little later than now and Lola Hart is writing her life in a diary. She's a nice middle-class girl on the verge of her teens who schools at the calm end of town.

A normal, happy, girl.

But in a disintegrating New York she is a dying breed. War is breaking out on Long Island, the army boys are flamethrowing the streets, five Presidents have been assassinated in a

Kindle Edition, SF Masterworks, 260 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Gateway (first published 1993)
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Craig No. There's 'easter-eggs' in there, but its more grounded that the others and can stand alone.
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,078 ratings  ·  290 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wonders what things could be like in 20 years
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh
This book should be as famous as A Clockwork Orange - like that one it has its own language and pictures a near future urban nightmare featuring gangs of feral children.

But it isn't. Perhaps the problem is the title, which is, when you look at it objectively, completely crap. Perhaps the problem is that when people see that it's about a near future urban nightmare featuring gangs of feral children they think huh, I already read one like that.

Doesn't stop them reading umpteen books about vampires
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, in the areas of "dark apocalypse fiction" this one takes the cake. I'm reading a lot of dark books starring children lately, come to think about it.

This is like a book version of the Telltale Walking Dead game starring Clem. I don't have any better description, actually. It's super dark. Breakdown of society. Diary entries of a kid. Lord of the Flies-ish. Between this and Station Eleven I need to read a bunch of romance fluff for a while, haha.
Emma Sea
So tough to rate.

1) Exquisite writing. Mind-blowingly marvelous. The shifting voice of the MC is compelling and utterly believable.

I've penned myself dry with all I writ. You give ear when everybody deafs and lend me shoulder constant if tears need dropping.

2)The book kept me up ALL NIGHT. I was unable to stop reading because I had to find out about Iz and Boob and Lola.

3) At the same time, I hated the plot. I'm not saying it was a bad plot. It was gripping and perfectly structured. It's no mean
Following the trend so easy to see for all of us who lived through the early 1990's, this book takes everything we experienced and amped it up to a fever pitch.

Womack takes all the increasing poverty, the general decline across the board, the massive riots, unrest and all the various drugs making it into every home (including prescription abuse), and tops it with violence on a very scary and down-to-earth scale.

It works so well here in this novel. The gentle diary of a 12-year-old girl in a mone
Katie Lumsden
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic novel - brutal, distressed and kind of terrifying, but at the same time electric, powerful and really moving. It's both a coming of age story and an intense dystopia - not a light read, but well worth the strain. I would highly recommend this one, and am so glad I finally got to it.
Tracy Sherman
Dear Diary
You are the only one I can turn too when I am troubled and have no one to talk too.
My friends are all reading a book called Random Acts of Senseless Violence written by a guy named Jack Womack. They think it's so cool and it does have a cool name and cover and I really wanted to like it. Really I did... but I just finished reading it and I feel kinda' "meh" about it.
Maybe I was expecting more from it, or maybe dear Diary, maybe I'm too old to be cool anymore. Or maybe it's just not a
Dec 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, this novel, my second of Womack's and a sort of prequel to Ambient and Elvissey, although none of the same characters, the near future setting of NYC is the same. Don't let the title scare u, this isn't by any stretch just a 'senseless' exploitative scary story. it's one of the greatest, most heartbreaking well-written novels i've read in a long time.

Even though it's along the lines of A Clockwork Orange, it's definitely original and way better in my opinion. I'm not really into coming of a
Gregory Frost
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps Jack Womack's unsung masterpiece. Published originally in 1993, this book of America in dystopic breakdown is as sharp and alive today as it was then. Told entirely through the diary entries of a sixth grader who watches her world transform as her own voice transforms within it, the book is a wonder. How in the world did it slip off the radar?

I cannot do it justice in a review, save to say, this is something every sf reader from YA up should seek out and read. If you're a reader
Tudor Ciocarlie
The best piece of dystopian fiction I've read in a long time. A very disturbing novel, the diary of a twelve-year-old girl living the beginning of a slow-apocalypse and her transformation from the best girl in the school into an end of the world child. Sometimes it was almost to disturbing watching this apocalypse creeping into her world, her city, her street, her building, her family and finally into her soul. I'm astonished that almost nobody seems to have read this brilliant book. Read it and ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, dystopia
The trouble with reading dystopian fiction all the time is that bad dystopias are annoying, good dystopias are depressing, and excellent dystopias are devastating. This is the third kind. ‘Random Acts of Senseless Violence’ tells the story of America’s implosion in the brilliantly immediate format of a tweenager’s diary. The writer is plunged straight into the life of Lola, a twelve year old girl living with her parents and younger sister in New York. The way that total social breakdown plays ou ...more
This book began poorly. I was so very, very bored and unimpressed with the story. Some how or another I picked the book up not knowing that the entire work is the diary of a twelve-year-old girl. I try hard to not read anything about a book once I have decided to read it and this kind of bit me in the butt in this case.

The story is lacking that extra spark and I am biased against books with minor protagonists. The title is misleading. The shelves people have thrown the book onto are misleading.
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a well written book. It is told from the point of view of a young girl whom we get to watch disintegrate in exquisite detail. Some will respond that it's not her disintegration, but in a very real sense it's the story of her and her society coming apart. As I said, it's very well done and I know many rate this book very highly.

So, this is one of the most depressing, sad, harrowing books out there and if that's what you're looking for you will have found it here.

I rate books on more than
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I happened upon this book on a list of "most underrated/unknown works." Upon completion, I'm not sure if I agree with that designation. While I liked the fictional setting of a near-future New York on the brink of collapse and anarchy, that may be about all that I liked. It was written in a "dear diary" format that I found irksome, but not nearly so irksome as the 12-year-old girl (as written by middle-aged white male) perspective. It never rang true to me. This became even more grating as the n ...more
First Second Books
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Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a quick and engaging read. Truth be told, I'm wondering if I lack some empathy gene, because I didn't find it nearly as harrowing or depressing as many other reviews have stated. Partly, I think, is because the author started focusing more on Lola's descent into violence (the gradual shift in voice and action is skillfully done) than fleshing her out as a character; take away her burgeoning sexuality and what else is there? And, honestly, is it really futuristic & dystopian? Thi ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. The book is structured as a series of diary entries of a twelve year old girl, and that got old real quick. I found these portrayals wholly unconvincing, not least of which are the frequent sexual depictions that were just outright creepy. The story is essentially a coming of age tale that takes place in a society that's slowly falling apart. We get no context or background on this, nothing more than the fact that riots seem to break out all over the place, apparently for no ...more
Sam Reader
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


       My wish for this year is that just once, just one time, just for a second, there would be a Jack Womack book that I could actually recommend to people. Because he's a good author. And as I slowly maneuver my way through the DryCo books, I do like them quite a bit. The futurespeak isn't completely impenetrable, the plots are intriguing and kind of freaky, and there's something very organic about the world of the books. 

But the ones I've read, I can't re
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is bleak. Bleak as in baby sparrow being left to die in the middle of a desolate moor during a heavy winter sleet storm after its mother and siblings were eaten by a sadistic cat, who probably wasn't even hungry just cruel, just so so cruel.

It's also a good book.

Lola a clever happy 12 year old living a comfortable existence in the upper west side in New York starts a diary. Day by day she chronicles a steadily disintegrating society and the impact it has on her and her family as they s
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Take Oliver Twist, A Clockwork Orange, and Maggie, a Girl of the Streets and beat them into a pulp with a baseball bat, and you've got Random Acts.
The last line made my heart lurch in horror, and not cynical, unfeeling horror of The Wasp Factory, but the kind that comes from genuine despair. I'm afraid that this is one of those books I'm going to be cornering unsuspecting people with at parties and saying "Have you read this f#cking thing?" while they cough and try to shuffle away.
Mindlost and u
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars=It was amazing. It was, but not in the sense that Vanity Fair or Paradise Lost or even Harry Potter is. I have no idea where this book came from. I mean both from the author and from wherever to land on my NOOK. Something must have clicked in the promo that urged me to download it. Frankly, it was a little heavier than I would've liked considering a lot of recent books I've been reading. The construction of this novel is utterly fascinating. Circular in some ways, in others a straight ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, thank you, S.F. Masterworks series! Another literary spec fic book that I would have never found otherwise.

Like the Clarke book, this one opens with an impassioned intro from another author (William Gibson), explaining why this is such a secret, cult favorite. I'm liable to agree! It's original, explosive, exaggerated, tragicomic, and did I mention original? It's double-original. It's n-original. It was fun and dark and demented. I loved it!

The titular random act of senseless violence occur
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It deserves 5 stars, probably. It's full of so much reality, though, that I can't bring myself to do it. All the content and trigger warnings, folks. All of 'em. I literally envisioned their second house as the one where trauma first happened to me at Lola's age. This is not an easy book.

Reading this book in the time of Trump was like circling the sucking, swirling depression hole blindfolded. You're just asking for it. I found myself pushing to get to the end so I wouldn't have to keep living i
Dec 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, dystopia
Recommended on YALSA-BK as a good dystopian title starring a 12-year-old girl.

Random Acts is the story of a young girl in a near-future Manhattan dealing with an increasingly violent culture. Over the course of about six months, Lola's life falls from upper-middle class life into violent crime and life on the streets. The novel watches her life, instincts, and language change. Of particular note is this language thing. The first entries are in traditional conservative modern grammer. By the end,
Gisela Hafezparast
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Thanks BBC2 "A good read" for recommending this one. Would have never picked it up otherwise. Really enjoyed the depiction of a society under thread (couldn't exactly work out if it was some sort of dictatorship, terrorism, but it didn't matter) and what it feels like to lose control of your fate due to economic circumstances which you can't influence. Also thought it showed the helplesness of middle class people in these circumstances without a social support systems as we enjoy in most Europea ...more
Nina Bhadreshwar
This novel should be compusory reading in every school. Maybe I am biased. Maybe it's because I can remember New York City in 1993 and the vibe in the air back then that this was indeed the beginning of the end.

Although the book is set decades into the future, Womack could not have anticipated how fast events would occur nor how the apocalyptic urban chaos he describes would be outdone by reality - within eight years. Still, it's prescient, no doubt, and the teenage Lola, as the antithetical Ann
This is a darkly disturbing Dystopian novel set in in a world where the world economy has almost completely collapsed and the day to day lives of people is harsh and soul-breaking. Written as a series of diary entries from the point of view of a young teenage girl. A curious main character to be sure considering her position and place in the world, which happens to be New York, and makes for a challenging read at times.
Daniel Simmons
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, this book is kinda... well... f***ked up. (I mean that in the best possible way.) Bleak and brilliant.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book! The emotional roller coaster was so intense, poor Lola. If you want a grim portrayal of what our future might look like in the next decades then read this book.
Jessica Rushing
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 out of 5 stars.
A dark and disturbing novel pieced together like the diary of a 12 year old girl in a close-to-apocalyptic New York.
Lola (Booz) lives with her parents and her 9-year old sister Cheryl (Boob). She goes to an all-girl private school and has two close friends.
As it starts, there's already trouble in paradise because no one is buying her father's screenplays anymore and her mother, not being tenured, has been let go from her teaching position. There's the debt collectors - vile,
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SF Masterworks Group: Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack 7 17 Jul 27, 2013 12:21PM  

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"Womack's fiction may be determinedly non-cyber, but, with its commitment to using SF as a vehicle for social critique, it definitely has a punky edge. William Gibson once said that he thought he was more interested in basic economics and politics than the average blue sky SF writer. That counts double for Womack, whose fiction is packed with grimly amusing social satire and powerful little allego ...more

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Dryco (6 books)
  • Heathern
  • Ambient
  • Terraplane
  • Elvissey
  • Going, Going, Gone
“You don't know who your friends are ... until you're not like them anymore.” 7 likes
“On the news tonight the new President said there's no reason for anyone to worry about the situation. He didn't say which situation.” 6 likes
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