Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Review: 'Thirteen Reasons Why' by Jay Asher
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several 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."
It hard to really know all of the reasons why a person commits suicide. It typically isn't just one thing that can be easily summed up, but layers of experiences, insults and mistakes that make life unbearable. Hannah attempts to explain her reasons for taking her own life through a series of recordings, which are then to be passed to each of the thirteen people who played a part in her decision. Clay is confused by the tapes, because he can't imagine what he might have done to Hannah to make her want to kill herself. He even thinks about not listening to them several times. I can understand that, but I think curiosity would make them hard to resist. What I don't understand is why each person continued passing the tapes on. The threat about a second set out there didn't seem to be enough motivation to continue, especially for those in the beginning who's slights against Hannah weren't that big of a deal.
I liked Clay. I thought he was a good guy. I wanted to know more about him. Hannah, on the other hand, came across as whiny and overly dramatic. Oooh...some boy claimed to have felt you up in a park and now your reputation is ruined forever. Blah, blah, blah. What teenage girl hasn't had lies spread about her for one reason or another? Oh, no! She was placed on a list as "The Best Ass in Freshman Class." (I might have been secretly proud to hold that title as a teenager.) So, I found the first few reasons for her suicide ridiculous, and the last couple to be extremely implausible, almost like the author was trying too hard. That being said, suicide isn't a rational choice. In Hannah's mind, these thirteen reasons took on a life of their own, distorting her reality. Maybe we aren't meant to understand Hannah.
One of the criticisms of this book is that the constant switching between Clay and Hannah's voices was distracting and made it hard to read for some. I actually listened to this on the audio version, so the voice changes actually added to the story rather than detracted from it. My suggestion would be to read the free sample chapter on Amazon. If the voice changes bother you, consider the audio book .
Overall, I give Thirteen Reasons Why...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 bookmarks
Moral lesson - 5 bookmarks (Suicide is never an answer. I think this comes across in the book.)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Sarah Hyland (Hannah), Aaron Johnson (Clay), Liam Hemsworth (Bryce), Miley Cyrus (Jessica)