Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill 2007

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package 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. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic.
(From Goodreads)


My first review since May, think I might be a bit rusty at this, so please forgive me if I make a few blunders! 

I'd heard of this book before, but it had always managed to take a backseat in my mind. That is, until I hit a bump in the road to "reading recovery" (as I like to call it), and I asked my Tumblr followers for help. This book was recommended by one of my followers, and it finally gained my attention. I was weary when I first picked it up because I'd never read this kind of book before, but I took the plunge.

A box of tapes arriving on the front doorstep sounds intriguing in the least, and I was instantly curious because let's face it, who listens to tapes anymore? Nonetheless, a box of tapes is what Clay Jensen, the story's protagonist, finds on his doorstep. Clay was a very likeable character, and his reactions throughout listening to the tapes were plausible. I felt as if I was right there with him, on the edge of my seat, listening to Hannah's words.

Hannah was the biggest surprise, in my mind. She wasn't at all like I'd thought she'd be. To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect, but I certainly didn't expect what I got. Maybe a little more sadness? Hannah's character mainly came across as bitter, and perhaps even resentful. I understood that Hannah had sent out those tapes to explain why she committed suicide, but I thought she was not only using the tapes for that, but also as a way to lash out at the people mentioned on the tapes. I also appreciated the dual narrative between Hannah and Clay; thoughts and feelings coming across from both sides filled the book with raw emotion.

Ultimately though, this book puts the little things into perspective. The things you might've seen as jokes and you simply brushed them aside: they can have a profound effect on someone. You don't know what goes on inside a person's head, and how these little things can build up gradually. I guess the most terrifying thing that I learnt from this book is that the changes these things can make to someone are very subtle, and they're easy to overlook. A powerful read that's sure to strike a chord in everyone and a must-read for every teenager.

3.5 stars


  1. I read this a while ago and didn't think it was as good as I thought it would be from the intriguing synopsis. I'm with you on that, although I didn't really know what I was expecting with Hannah, she did surprise me. I guess maybe I was expecting her to be more sad and depressed too? And you're right, this book does bring attention to the fact that you should think about even the littlest things you do to people, because they can sometimes have the biggest impacts.
    You don't sound rusty at all, Debbie! Great review :)

  2. Yay, good to have you back, Debbie! You aren't rusty at all. :) I reread this one not too long ago, and I'm glad to see that you picked it up as well, though it looks like you didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did! I totally understand what you think about Hannah, it does kind of sound like she's blaming everyone, but she does have her reasons. I thought about it more like she was letting everyone know that what people did to her wasn't right. I also loved the message in the book! Awesome review, Debbie! :)