Thirteen Reasons Why

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How did I get it?:
I received it as a gift!

Synopsis:

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.

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.

Thoughts:

Hmm, now this is certainly a book that I can see would totally polarise opinions. I thought Thirteen Reasons Why had an incredibly interesting premise and it’s certainly different to anything I’ve ever read, but I still found fault within the story, which I shall explain further later. What I did like about Thirteen Reasons Why is that it was blunt. It never really messed around with the setting. It told the story simply.

Thirteen Reasons Why immediately gripped me. I started it late at night and immediately regretted it, because I couldn’t devour it in one sitting. We find out right from the beginning that Hannah Baker has killed herself. Hannah lives on through cassette tapes which she has recorded giving answers to why she took her own life. Each tape discussed why a particular person added to Hannah wanting to take her own life. I couldn’t stop reading, I wanted to know how each person had somewhat contributed to her suicide. It made me think about how little things we do can have a massive impact on other individuals. It was incredibly intriguing to read. I liked reading Hannah’s story, but also reading from Clay’s perspective as he commented on the tapes.

Hannah Baker wasn’t immediately a likeable character, or one that I could empathise with. Some things that happened to her were terrible, but other things she mentioned just seemed to me like typical teenage drama that happens to every teenage girl and not necessarily a thing to want to kill yourself about, although, of course, we all handle drama in different ways. I think some of the things that happened to Hannah were avoidable. That’s where I begun to take issue. I felt like Hannah blamed her suicide on everyone but herself. She could’ve changed the situations she was in, but never did.  There is situation involving rape in the story and it really sat uncomfortably with me, I couldn’t believe Hannah didn’t do anything to help someone else as she was too busy thinking about herself. Hannah did come across as incredibly whiny and that’s why I can’t rate this book any higher than I have done.

It’s hard, because I can understand that a lot of the time other people’s actions can lead to another person’s suicide but for me, it felt like Hannah didn’t take enough responsibility for the things that happened to her and at least try to make her life better before she gave up. I feel like Hannah was just as malicious sending out thirteen tapes to those that affected her. Perhaps she had now affected the lives of those that had affected hers?

I still enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why and I do think it’s an incredibly powerful, engrossing read. It made me think which I really appreciate! I just don’t think it sends the best message or has the most likeable character.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!- with some caution considering its subject matter.

Well worth reading if you like dark stories, but if you’d feel uncomfortable reading about teenage suicide in a very blunt manner, then steer clear.

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17 thoughts on “Thirteen Reasons Why

  1. I really liked this book. I thought the blunt nature of it was part of the…I don’t want to say “charm”, but it was what made this book work for me. I can see how some of the things that happened to Hannah don’t seem that bad, but it made me realize that for people with depression or other issues, it’s the smallest things that make the difference. Once you start looking for the bad things, it’s not hard to find them, so I can see how Hannah got caught up in the drama and how it led to her killing herself.

    – Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

    • I’m really glad you enjoyed it! I did for the most part, but I did have some faults within it, as I mentioned in my review. You’re absolutely right, sometimes the smaller things do add up to massive issues.

  2. I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, and I’m not sure I agree with you on Hannah. I think that everyone deals with tough situations differently, and for whatever reason some people just can’t deal with those. And although it was malicious of Hannah to send out those tapes to other people, I completely understood why she did it. Haven’t we all wanted to show someone exactly how they hurt us; to want to hurt them like they have hurt us?

    But regardless, I am glad that you did enjoy this book. I was afraid it would be atoo preachy for me, but I think Asher did a good job of not letting it get that way.

  3. Good point, I do think we deal with things differently, I just couldn’t connect with her as much as I wanted to. You’re right, it’s human nature to want to hurt others as much!

  4. I think it’s very valid for Hannah to be a flawed character and to have made flawed choices. But maybe it would have been better if Clay, as a more clear-headed observer, had noticed that more and provided more outright commentary on it? That’s generally the difference between a challenging book and a troubling one– whether or not the troubling aspects are acknowledged as troubling. It’s been years since I read this one, though, so I don’t really remember which side it fell on there.

  5. I agree, I thought Hannah was too malicious without doing anything to really help herself. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters but could see the message the book has being really helpful for people going through a hard time in high school.

    • It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that felt that Hannah was very malicious but not very forthcoming at making things better for herself. Of course, depression does affect everyone in different ways, it was just a tad frustrating! It’s definitely an educational book which can cause so much discussion. I’m glad I read it.

  6. I felt the same way about Hannah. I didn’t like her – she was whiny, and blamed everyone but herself for things that could’ve easily been avoided. Not to mention her reasons were trivial, and not even if you pile them all together would it be a good reason to commit suicide.

    I lost all sympathy for her with that rape scene, and then again during the hot tub scene. It’s really her own fault, yet she never takes responsibility for her actions.

    Great review, Chrissi!

    • Thank you Inge! 🙂 I’m glad to read that you felt the same way about Hannah. I completely agree with you. I do understand that people handle situations in different ways so it could potentially cause depression, but her suicide seemed so extreme. I think if the rape scene/hot tub scene weren’t in the book I may have felt more sympathy for her and understood her actions a little more.

  7. I picked this up because I thought the premise was interesting. My gosh but I’m swearing off books that tackle issues of suicide from hereon I think. My heart cannot take it, I found it depressing.

  8. Oh I remember, I did read It’s Kind of a Funny Story just a while back. While it talked about suicide too, I found the main character very much responsible unlike the girl from 13 Reasons Why who I thought just put the blame on everyone. I actually liked It’s Kindof a Funny Story come to think of it.

  9. My friend literally just passed this one along to me with a sticky note on the front saying ‘MUST READ NOW!’ on it! I’m glad to see she isn’t the only one who really likes it. I really like the idea of the cassettes instead of a suicide note and I’m pretty interested to see all her reasons. But thanks for the warning about her being a bit whiny, at least I know now before I start reading! 🙂

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