Friday, January 3, 2020

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Pub. Date: October 18th 2007
Source: Half Price Books

Book Description:

He consumed her with that kiss, leaving no question that whatever was happening between them was meant to be—that it had always been meant to be…

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 returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.



I know this book is really polarizing for a lot folks, and that a lot of people have strong feelings about it. I'm just not that passionate about it, so this is going to be a really basic review. I have not seen the Netflix adaptation.

I think this book has a good concept. I liked the way that it was formatted, both by using the tapes as a way to hear Hannah's story and by using the tape deck functions (play, pause, rewind) as a way to tie in Clay's narrative and response to her stories.

I will say that this book held my attention. This is probably the fastest that I've read a book in quite a while. It was both intriguing and haunting. I found myself wanting Clay to keep listening and going forward with the tapes, but I also hesitated each time a new person was mentioned, unsure if I actually did want to know what happened to Hannah.

I think I would have appreciated this book when it came out. 2007 would have been freshman/sophomore year of high school for me, when I myself would have been in the throes of my worst depression and high school angst. To me it seemed, melodramatic yes, but also quite realistic. I never questioned the teenage voice that it's written in, and all of the things that happened seemed like they very easily could have been real. That's something that I don't find a lot in a lot of high school books, especially where parties are involved.

I felt connected to the characters, which was sort of weird, considering that Hannah is dead. But the same way that hearing Hannah's voice makes Clay a little jumpy because it's like she's alive again, because her narrative is so strong on the tapes, you feel like you know her. And I felt for Clay, who had to hear so much and continue on with the little chain letter type set up.

I don't think I'll ever read this book again, but I'm not mad that I read it. I don't really recommend it to anyone either- I'd hate for anyone to be influenced by the topics here. If you're suicidal, or have been impacted by suicide, I do not think that this is the book for you.


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