- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- YA Contemporary Fiction, High-School, Mental Illness, Suspense
- My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (2.5 – 3)
“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
Of course, I had to give into all the hoopla over the show and pick up this book, lest I wanted my co-workers and bookish friends to judge me for not having done so already.
So for those of you who also live under a rock like I do and don’t know what 13 Reasons Why is about, it is told through a combined narrative. Shy high-schooler and contender for valedictorian, Clay Jensen, comes home to find a shoe box filled with numbered cassette tapes which were recorded by Hannah Baker, a friend of his who recently committed suicide. Hannah uses these cassette tapes to delineate 13 reasons why she killed herself, with each reason being focused on a particular friend or classmate (a.k.a, the people instructed listening to them). Each person is to pass the tapes to one another afterwards. As Clay anxiously listens to all of Hannah’s stories, he visits various places around town which she mentions in her recordings.
I actually liked the dual narratives of this book. I thought it was cool how Hannah’s voice intertwined with Clay’s throughout the story.
I really disliked how Hannah came off as really spiteful and mean…I just can’t imagine someone sounding so bitter right before the end. I don’t dare speak for anyone who has experienced or felt what Hannah did, but she sounded more like a vengeful ghost than someone trying to teach others about the consequences of their actions. Hannah’s desire for payback was so prominent, which just isn’t the right message to send out to young readers reading about something as heavy as suicide.
My heart broke for Clay, a.k.a. the only likable character in the whole book. His hurting over not realizing how much Hannah needed his help was believable and I like how it conflicted with his feelings of frustration with her. How can you be angry with someone who wouldn’t let you help them and took their own life without victim-blaming? I hate that she emotionally and mentally scars Clay for the rest of his life, by making him listen to these tapes because *subtle-spoiler* he didn’t actually do anything wrong.
I didn’t want to hate Hannah…but she was really hard to like. By the time you’ve read this post, I’ve probably finished all the episodes of Netflix adaptation and while my love for Clay soared, so did my dislike for Hannah. I’m totally biased because I think Clay is a cutie pie and I’m obsessed with Dylan Minnette, the actor who portrays him. But every time Hannah was mean to him, I wanted to cuss her out! I’ve been quite nervous to continue watching because I heard about some really graphic scenes that make me uncomfortable just thinking about them. I know it’s just a show and these kinds of things are re-enacted all the time, but my negative feelings toward the book made me unhappy with the fact that this show actually happened. I’ll be back with tomorrow with a post detailing my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Verdict: While the subjects this book discusses are extremely important and worth talking about, the whole stream of events leading up to Hannah’s suicide was unrealistic. I felt like the author took every terrible thing that happened to teenagers ever and threw them into – what was it? – 2-3 months? The book was definitely a page-turner, but I was more concerned about what was going to happen to my baby, Clay, than Hannah’s final declaration. There was no real evidence of her progression of mental illness and she claims that people and events were the cause of taking her own life, therefore using her suicide as payback…that is not okay.