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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: October 8, 2007
ISBN-10: 159514188X
ISBN-13: 9781595141880
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Purchased
You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret. . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-- and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town...

...and what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Review:
Thirteen Reasons Why touches upon the issue of suicide through Hannah Baker, a teenager who committed suicide and told her story through a series of cassette tapes. Clay Jensen comes home one day to find these mysterious tapes boxed up and addressed to him. He discovers that Hannah sent seven tapes with thirteen reasons to different people who played a part in her ending her life. Clay, as a recipient, apparently affected Hannah's decision, but he couldn't figure out why. Through each tape, the story ultimately tells the tale of how people's actions can cause a ripple effect on someone's life.

It ultimately turns out that Clay, the narrator of the story, was the only one on Hannah's list that didn't leave such a negative effect on her. With each passing tape that he listened to, he started feeling more and more guilty and felt that he could have done something to prevent Hannah from killing herself. He was a good enough character; of course every story has to have a narrator that virtually has no flaws... that's cool. But he was kind of just there. Hannah was the real focus of the book. She didn't really jump off the page for me, either. However, I've seen several people say that her reasons for killing herself "weren't even a big deal" and all these other things, and to that I say: who are we to judge? No one knows the extent of someone's problems or their feelings but themselves. Just because someone doesn't deal with problems the same way you would doesn't mean they're less inclined in any way. Not everyone has the same amount of strength to deal with tough situations.

That being said, I have to commend Asher for not going too over the top with the "reasons". Was it realistic? Maybe not. Was Hannah at fault for a lot of the things that happened to her? Definitely. But she dealt with realistic teen problems, and this book just showed how even the simplest actions can affect someone, and it's possible for it to build up into something that might end in a similar, if not same, situation. I wasn't too invested in the characters, it was more the plot itself and that message of the book overall that kept me invested.

The book got an extra half star from me because of the intricacy concerning the tape concept. The story-telling was done well enough and I kept reading on, interested to read about the next tape. I would've given it a whole star if I wasn't so creeped out by the fact that she sent out tapes for specific people; talk about being haunted for the rest of your life. I found myself asking what exactly the purpose was with the tapes. Was it to make them feel guilty? For revenge? That's a little cruel. And if that doesn't make these people feel like complete crap for a lifetime, knowing that they contributed to her death, then I don't know what would.

The plot is original and I sympathized with both Hannah and Clay, but I didn't love the book as much as I wanted to. It was recommended to me by a friend and I've seen a lot of people talking about it, so I decided to check it out. It only took me a couple of hours to read, and while I was entertained, I wasn't blown away or anything. The ending was also a little disappointing. I would have liked for it to be more fleshed out. It's a good, quick read, and I'm glad to have read it because it seemed to have impacted a lot of people, but I was conflicted. It does send a good message that people should be mindful to how they treat others, because you never know what kind of impact your actions can have on someone. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I listened to it via audio book; that would've been interesting considering the context of the story. Of course, if the plot sounds interesting (which it is) and you're the kind of person who is intrigued by these kinds of stories, then definitely check it out for yourself and be the judge.

My rating:

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§ 2 Response to “Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

  • Estelle says:

    I also felt this book wasn't as amazing as I thought it was going to be. I really liked it. I did. It affected me, but just... not that big impact I thought it would have.

    Glad I'm not alone!

  • Judith says:

    I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Like you, I wasn't that invested in the characters. But it was a pretty quick read. I was mostly curious about how it would end. Good review!

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