March 22, 2011

Review of "Thirteen Reasons Why"

"Thirteen Reasons Why"
Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Pub. Date: October 18th, 2007
Pages: 288
Publisher: Razorbill

Synopsis:  Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 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.

Even though I have always heard fantastic things about this book, I never expected it to live up to the hype, but it definitely does.  "Thirteen Reasons Why" is a book that anyone would be able to appreciate, whether you are a teen, a parent, a male, or a female.  I listened to this book on audio and it was fantastic.  I left for work early just so I could sit in my car and listen to as many CDs as possible.  I rarely bring my clunky CD player to the gym, but I did with this book.  

The whole concept of a suicide box set of cassettes is pretty creepy, but the fact that Hannah sent them to 13 people brings it to a whole other level.  This book can be pretty haunting at times, but Jay Asher writes Hannah in a way that keeps the tone lighter than one would expect.  Even though I don't agree with Hannah's suicide, Asher constructed the story in a way that allows the reader to completely understand and can see why she killed herself.  I think many teens will relate to Hannah and see parts of themselves in her.  I know I had similar experiences with rumor mills and being put on a list that gave people a green light to say inappropriate comments.

Clay is technically the main character in this book, but I must stress that this is truly Hannah's story.  Clay does have a role to play and the reader learns the reasons for Hannah's suicide with Clay, but he doesn't detract from the story.  The fact that Clay cannot fathom why he is even on the tapes and thinks the whole thing is a mistake left me dying to know what he did wrong.  Everyone else was such a jerk, but Clay seems so nice... I just HAD to know his dirty little secret!  I wasn't sure how hearing Hannah's story with commentary from another character would work with the plot, but it just gives it so much depth.  You see that Hannah is not being paranoid about the rumors.  Clay believed them and even allowed them to rule over his actions.  You get the story from two different points of view delving deeper into Hannah's life and brining insight that Hannah herself couldn't provide.

This is a book about suicide, but it is also about friendship, first love, rumors, high school, and so much more.  I seriously think I could write a novel about how amazing "Thirteen Reasons Why" is and why everyone must read it, but I think I have gushed enough... but seriously this was definitely one of the best YA books I have ever read.

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  1. It looks good. I'll have to check it out, and add it to my TBR pile.

  2. I loved "Thirteen Reasons Why" too!! I never actually realized the Jay's lighter tone to the book, but now that you mentioned it it makes total sense. Awesome review!

  3. I have this and can't wait to read it.

  4. Thanks wdebo! Abeautifulmadness and Medeia- This really is a must read. I didn't think I would love it nearly as much as I did, but it is just a fantastic book!