Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

June 2, 2017 Review 8 ★★★½

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Narrator: Debra Wiseman, Joel Johnstone
Publisher: Listening Library
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 288
Length: 6 hrs, 24 mins
Release Date: October 18th 2007
Genres: Bullying, Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Suicide, Young Adult
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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.
This book may be unsuitable for younger readers due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence. Note that this review itself does not contain any inappropriate material.

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.

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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 »

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.

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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.

Buy Thirteen Reasons WhyBook DepositoryBooktopia | BookWorld

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.

8 Responses to “Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

  1. Tasya

    Glad you liked it, this can be a hit or miss for people. And yeah, I do understand sending people tapes and blaming them is vengeful and selfish, but I guess she has her reason other than blame them? Maybe to invoke some kind of regret and change? I mean some people on the tapes did change after listening to it. But yeah, I also disagree on why Clay on that tape. Great review Bec!
    Tasya recently posted…Top 5 Wednesday #17: Fandom I Already Left

    • Bec

      It is quite the polarizing story.

      The way Hannah talks on the tapes is very vengeful. It’s good that for some it brought about awareness, but a lot of the early tapes had petty reasons behind their existence and the recipient didn’t need the guilt associated from one thing they did early on.

  2. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    I have this one on my shelf to read but I don’t think I’m going to, especially hearing about Hannah’s selfish decisions. I think it sends the wrong message about suicide, that you should do it to make other’s feel bad. Anyway, I have to give away my book sometime.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…All Day YA Recap and Giveaway

    • Bec

      The message it sends depends on the POV you look at the book from, I think. It does highlight the need for us to be more observant and look out for those around us, ask if they’re okay and try to help, etc. But yeah there is no doubt Hannah’s final actions were incredibly selfish and unnecessary.

  3. scar

    This is one of those rare instances where I watched the show before I read the book (I didn’t know the book existed until after I’d seen the show on Netflix). But as soon as I found that out, I knew I had to read it. I’ve yet to pick up a copy, but for what it’s worth I thought the Netflix series was really well done. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the series and what I think of the book!
    scar recently posted…Silence Is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

    • Bec

      There were more changes from the book than I expected in the end, some good changes (like her parents being more involved), but others I didn’t understand so much… I hope you enjoy the book as much as you enjoyed the show!

  4. Terri M., the Director

    I loved this book when I read it. It kept me up reading it late into the night on vacation. My husband had to tell me to go to bed. And then I was up at the crack of dawn, coffee in hand to finish it.

    I watch 7 of the 13 episodes on Netflix. I had to stop watching. It was too intense. Emotionally, I couldn’t handle it. I do want to see the end, but I don’t think I ever will.

    I did try to re-read the book around the same time, but I just couldn’t do it. This book touches on some very tough subjects and does it well, IMO.
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…How Not to Meet a Celebrity. My Exciting Adventures at Phoenix ComiCon.

    • Bec

      It was so easy to just keep reading and not stop.

      The show does intensify the drama, but it has to I think to keep things entertaining. I understand not being emotionally prepared for some of it though. It’s full on to watch. It handles such tough themes.

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