Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 18, 2007
Source: Purchased

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.

My Review

I've been seeing this book everywhere for a while, but I never really looked into it because I had a lot on my plate. Finally after seeing about twenty paperback copies at Half Price Books and another ten or so paperbacks at Target, I decided to look for it. I went to the YA section at Half Price Books and found a copy without a dust jacket. Ready to leave, I found another used copy with a dust jacket, so I took it home.

So here it goes...

I was eager to start this book and was told by many that it was great. Apparently it should have been a book that I should have loved. I really did not like this book. I felt like a lot of the ideas were being pushed too hard on the readers, and because of this, I found myself confused. I am never a confused reader, but there was just way too much going on in this book for me to make sense of it all.

First of all, the book is supposed to be narrated by Clay. He's listening to Hannah's suicide tapes, so I knew their text would be prominent. I wanted to know Hannah's story. I found myself agitated by how disconnected it feels at times because a thought by Clay is thrown in before he actually hits the stop button.

I'm never one to say this about books, but I also think there are way too many characters in this book. It is so hard to remember who someone is when they make another appearance in a later chapter.  I also had a hard time connecting the reason behind their tape to another person's tape.

Now for the important part. I commend Asher for writing about suicide. I really think the first-hand account of Hannah's is something unique, and I like that he chose to reveal her reasons behind her suicide that way, but I think the way it was presented was just wrong. I felt like it was actually promoting bullying because Hannah bullies the people she addresses in her tapes. It could all spiral out of control for the other characters in the book.

This is an important subject. Too many teens are taking their own lives, and I love how in the back of the book, he offers every possible number and website for anyone who needs help. That being said, those are the reasons behind my rating being three stars. This is a subject that needs to be talked about.

I guess this book just wasn't for me. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking that Asher should have just written a screenplay for a movie with this idea. I really think this book had the ideas and the potential to be great with the subject matter, but there were too many flaws in it for it to be a superb read for me.


  1. It's hard for me to read anything that has to do with suicide. My sister tried for most of my life (she was 24 yrs older than me) to kill herself. She past away in 2011. I don't think that I will ever be able to read that subject matter or cancer.

  2. Angie, my uncle committed suicide when I was little, but it's never really been an off limits thing for me. I feel like reading books about it is important for me to understand the people around me. It's weird, but I'm usually drawn to those kinds of books.

  3. I've been wanting to read this for so long. Even though you didn't enjoy it, I'm still going to give it a try :) x

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  5. Lauren, I definitely think you should give it a try. You'll never know how you feel about it until you read it yourself.

    There were good things about the book that I'm sure other readers would love, and I'd never tell anyone not to read a book just because I didn't like it. I hope you enjoy it, and I'll keep an eye out if you ever get to reading it. :)

  6. I'm kind of glad to see someone else that didn't like this book. I found it okay, but I think my expectations were too high going into it. Everyone else loved it so much, but I just couldn't see it.

    I do think it's an important book, though, because it did affect many people. Like you said, it's an important issue to discuss.


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