Narrator: Debra Wiseman, Joel Johnstone
Publisher: Listening Library
Length: 6 hrs, 24 mins
Release Date: October 18th 2007
Genres: Bullying, Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Suicide, Young Adult
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt this conflicted when trying to review a book. Even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure what I’m going to rate it. There are just so many thoughts about it floating around my head. So this review has turned into more of a discussion style, which I haven’t written in so long.
As a side note before I begin, I want you all to know that my inbox is always open. Sometimes it feels like you have no one to talk to, but if you ever need an impartial ear to listen to things, to maybe try and help, you can always contact me. You aren’t alone, no matter what your brain tries to tell you.
Now, the review.
First up, the technical parts of the book
I listened to the audiobook and it was just done so well. Hannah’s narrator in particular was fantastic portraying all the emotions that Hannah went through recording those tapes.
The narration was helped by a well put together story. It flowed incredibly well and I couldn’t stop listening. Yes, I was super curious to learn why Hannah committed suicide, but that curiosity can only take you so far. Intriguing characters and good writing are needed to completely catch your attention.
Now, my thoughts on what Hannah did (the suicide and the tapes)
There are two things I am conflicted over: Hannah committing suicide (I don’t personally think it was the answer, but she had her reasons), and the sending of the tapes.
The tapes were the biggest conflict for me. It was just so selfish and vengeful to send these people these tapes, to leave them with such guilt for her death. The early characters in particular did such minor things, leaving them with guilt was unfair. They did start the sequence of events, but seriously there are worse things to hold a grudge over and make people feel guilty for. Bryce though is the scum of the Earth, but I don’t know if his listening to the tapes is going to make a difference to his lifestyle because he is quite the dick.
Another thing with the tapes is that Clay’s reason for being on them was… anticlimactic. View Spoiler » Yes, he is a good guy, but I still thought he would be on there for more than “you fit in the flow here and I need you to know.” He did not chase after her, he noticed things weren’t right but didn’t help. I thought that might have been his reason but nope, he was on there for being his perfect self. He really could have just gotten his own tape and not had to listen to all the shit the others did. « Hide Spoiler
One thing Hannah did by sending the tapes to the early characters was highlight the snowball effect. While at the time you don’t think you did anything major, you never know how big of an effect that little thing might have on someone who is struggling with other things. And all those little things can add up, and add up, until it becomes too much. The world would be so much better to live in if people weren’t mean or vicious or selfish and instead put their effort into being nice, supportive human beings.
While I don’t agree with what Hannah did at all, I eventually came to understand why she did it. All those thoughts she had, and feelings of being alone, of being unwanted, are things I have felt since starting high school for various reasons. She felt alone, had some shitty things happen to her, and she was let down at the wrong times by everyone she wanted to trust. Was suicide the answer? No, but to her it seemed like the only choice and no one told her any differently. Should she have sent the tapes?
I personally don’t think so, the early people especially should not have received it in my eyes, but she was angry and wanted people to know their actions were to blame.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY was a powerful read, and left me with that book hangover ache. Very well written and paced with fantastic narrators giving voice to these characters. While I didn’t entirely agree with what Hannah chose to do, I can understand why she did it and it definitely made me think.
Delve into Hannah’s life story yourself.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?
Have you seen the Netflix series?
I just started watching the show (the tapes start word for word like the book) and I’m amazed how much foreshadowing and references to the later stuff they’ve already had in the last 5 minutes. Plus it looks like we’ll see more of the effect Hannah’s death had on her parents. I hope it can do the book justice, and also makes people realise not everyone around you is always okay, and sometimes all they need is someone to notice, to talk to.