Review: Thirteen Reasons Why


Thirteen Reasons Why
By Jay Asher

Source: Physical copy
Page count: 288
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realism, Romance, 

Goodreads 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.
When I was coming to write my initial thoughts for the review on this book, I found it very hard. I have really mixed opinions. I found it to be gripping, interesting, and beautifully written; but at the same time I found it to be frustrating, boring, and totally unbelieveable. For example, Clay - the narrator - described the letters on the building: "Each letter flinches on one at a time, C-R-E-S-T-M-O-N-T, like filling a crossword puzzle with neon letters". There was no plot holes, and it all came together like a puzzle towards the end, so I can't disagree that the book is well-written. But what I can disagree with is Hannah's reasons for suicide.
According to the NHS website, some of the main reasons for committing suicide are: having a mental health problem, being bullied, genetics and family history, and lifestyle (like being a drug addict or an alcoholic). Hannah did not experience any of there. I found all of the 13 reasons for Hannah's suicide just ridiculous. One of them was her first kiss was not everything she expected it to be. A ridiculous reason for taking your own life. Yes, I agree that according to the tapes, she did not have a good life, but - in my opinion - I think that they were not valid reasons to take her own life away. Committing suicide is a really big deal - the people who usually go through it have usually had much worse done to them than Hannah. 
I understand that for a YA novel, Jay Asher couldn't make his novel too depressing - which suicide definitely is - but the fact that the book is based around such a big topic means it should have been hard hitting for the book to be effective. The purpose - in my opinion - of the book is to teach the reader that suicide can affect anyone, and that if you see someone, or you are thinking about suicide, that you can talk to someone, and there are people who still care about you. To be honest, the reason's lack of justice (for being a reason - it was not a valid reason) makes the book's purpose not as effective on the reader. The potential reader who is thinking about suicide, they may not be able to relate to Hannah, because they have had it so much worse, meaning they think that they can't branch out to talk to someone, or they were bullied much more than Hannah, leading them to think that there actually is no-one that cares, not like Hannah, who had people caring about her, she just didn't know it. This made the whole book not-that-great for me.
Another thing I didn't like about this book was Clay, the narrator. The first thing I didn't like about him - which irritated me throughout the entire book - was that he kept interrupting Hannah's speech. As he was the narrator of the book, he kept saying things to the reader that were totally unnecessary, and didn't enhance the story at all. For example, "I sit on the platform". This is a perfect example - this was totally not needed, and these bits of pointless information should be definitely cut down. Another reason why I hated Clay telling us things was because it got really confusing. The only difference between Hannah's and Clay's speech was that Hannah's was in italics. This really confused me because when I'm reading, I don't really look at the paper as such, more like just imagine what's happening. With the writing style being only slightly different, I got mixed up when Hannah and Clay were both experiencing the same event. 
To add to this, I really hated Clay as a character. He was really annoying, and kept disagreeing with what Hannah said, saying things like that she was over reacting, and believing that Hannah was lying! I found this utterly disrespectful and rude, because everyone is allowed their own opinions, but Clay said that he loved Hannah and really missed her, yet was rude to her when she was dead! This outraged me because Clay was saying how he missed Hannah, despite the fact that he thought about her in an angry way, and believing what she was saying wasn't fair on the people on the tapes (people who she believed caused her suicide). Whatever Hannah would say about them would be fair - they made her kill herself. Anything she says about them is fully deserved. Any truth about themselves they deserve. In my opinion, causing someone to take their own life is one of the most terrible things anyone can do - and Clay was defending them! This was appalling. 
Though one thing I did like about was Clay was how he changed at the end. At the very end of the book, he sees someone with the same symptoms as Hannah, and goes to help them and talk to them. I like this in a character because it shows the book was worthwhile, for them and us. And, that teaches us as readers to look out for people, which I think was a very good way to finish a somewhat depressing book (although the main feeling I had when I finished it was pure annoyance).
I would recommend it if you enjoyed If I Stay. 

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