Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher [TSS]

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
ISBN: 1595141715
Pages: 304
Release Date: October 18, 2007
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a really mesmerizing book. I curled up with it one evening, expecting to read part of it and then go to sleep. Instead, I stayed up late into the night, determined to discover what happened to Hannah. Asher is really a master at building suspense. It’s a quiet suspense, not heart-pounding, but he propels the story forward in a masterful way. Anyone who picks up this book should expect to want to read it in one sitting.

The book is definitely heartbreaking. It exposes how poorly teenagers really can and do treat one another. There are consequences to being mean, even if you can’t see it right away. Like Clay, I was secretly hoping that there was some sort of mistake, that Hannah wasn’t really dead and that she was doing the whole thing to teach some sort of cruel lesson. I wanted her to be alive, I wanted her to see that the world isn’t a horrible place and that there are kind people in it. I had a degree of emotional investment in Thirteen Reasons Why; it captured me and still hasn’t let me go, even after finishing the novel.

The characters are extremely well written. Each is well-rounded and has their own place within the story. Asher must have taken some time in mapping out the direction of the plot because it is very tightly woven and intricate. Through Hannah’s words, it is easy to see how each person affected her and why. The narration is also very effective – Hannah’s thoughts in italics, Clay’s in normal script. Though it was a bit confusing at the beginning, I got used to it quickly. It was very interesting to see one person’s thoughts and another person’s immediate reactions.

The one problem I had with the book? The entire premise. I don’t like the idea of someone telling someone else “you are the reason I killed myself.” Yes people can be cruel; we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. And I’m not saying that these actions don’t matter and I’m not saying Hannah is completely wrong. I’m just saying I’m uncomfortable with the whole idea of it.

Still, Thirteen Reasons Why is a thoughtful and well-written novel that I would recommend to adults and teens alike. Anyone who reads it will find something to think about, something to ponder. I know I’m still thinking about it days later.

Comments

  1. This one looks really good. J. Kaye’s been raving about it. I’ve watched the trailer and thought it was really creepy.

  2. Sadly, tragically, the cruel comments of teens often lead to making foolish decisions. It’s hard to imagine, when you are sixteen and sensitive, that a time will ever come when you will be happy with yourself.

  3. I’m really uncomfortable with the premise too but i’m determined to read it next year. I wrote it into the YA challenge I’m doing. I know it’s going to make me awfully sad.

  4. This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I was absolutely sobbing when I finished it. It struck really close to home for me. I can see what you say about the premise, though, and I honestly hope that a teenager who reads this book and then takes their own life won’t do the same thing. Because I think it would be awfully hard for those left behind to deal with that kind of grief and guilt.

  5. This sounds like an interesting book, although it doesn’t sound like an easy read subject matter wise. I will have to keep my eye out for it. Thanks for the great review!

  6. i want to get this book so so much šŸ™‚ i want to read it..een if it makes me sad šŸ™‚

  7. While this doesn’t sound like an easy read, it’s one I want to get to sometime next year. Great review as usual Swapna.

  8. I have a problem with the premise of this book, too, but after reading your review, perhaps I’ll give it a try.

  9. I got this one from Paperbackswap recently, but didn’t want to read it during the holiday season. Hopefully I’ll get to it in the new year. Nice review.

  10. I’ve seen this all over the place, and I’m very curious about it. I think it might be too “heavy” for my 12 yr old, though (and if it’s in the house, she’ll read it!)

  11. This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time. Maybe I’ll find it under the tree this year.

  12. i read this last year and thought it was one of the best books i read all year. it was heartbreaking and sad but also very eye-opening. i think it is touching on something that happens in real life but people don’t want to talk about. hannah saying that these people are the reasons she killed herself may seem harsh, but i think there are people out there, teens and adults who commit suicide based on actions of others, how others have made them feel. it is awful but definitely something to think about.
    i found your review to be very well-written and thoughtful.

  13. i read this last year and thought it was one of the best books i read all year. it was heartbreaking and sad but also very eye-opening. i think it is touching on something that happens in real life but people don’t want to talk about. hannah saying that these people are the reasons she killed herself may seem harsh, but i think there are people out there, teens and adults who commit suicide based on actions of others, how others have made them feel. it is awful but definitely something to think about.
    i found your review to be very well-written and thoughtful.

  14. i really liked this book. it was amazing, but it also was sad. last year a kid in grade 8 committed suicide, and it was sad. and then i have a friend that is suicidal… make that 2… so… this really made me think… before reading this book i wasn’t sure what a should do about the 2 people i am talking about, but now i am going to do everything i can to change their minds, and i believe that both of them have tried to commit suicide but couldn’t go on…so sad… believe me… it is VERY hard having 2 friends that suicidal… i hate that word… it is disgusting, yet i don’t really have a hard time saying it… does that make sense… i guess what i am trying to say is: read this and you will love it, even if it is sad, it will make you think…

  15. i really liked this book. it was amazing, but it also was sad. last year a kid in grade 8 committed suicide, and it was sad. and then i have a friend that is suicidal… make that 2… so… this really made me think… before reading this book i wasn’t sure what a should do about the 2 people i am talking about, but now i am going to do everything i can to change their minds, and i believe that both of them have tried to commit suicide but couldn’t go on…so sad… believe me… it is VERY hard having 2 friends that suicidal… i hate that word… it is disgusting, yet i don’t really have a hard time saying it… does that make sense… i guess what i am trying to say is: read this and you will love it, even if it is sad, it will make you think…

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