Laura's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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May 13, 11

bookshelves: ya-literature, fiction
Read in July, 2008

Immediately before teenager Hannah Baker takes her own life, she sends audiotapes to 13 people, explaining the reasons for her suicide.

This book, written for young adults, has a very fine premise with an engrossing narrative, and Asher knows how to build suspense. Most importantly, his characters ring true, and he deserves a lot of credit for refusing to take the easy way out by making Hannah an innocent victim. To the contrary, some readers may justifiably find Hannah nearly as petty and manipulative as she believed her tormentors to be. This choice raises the book several notches above the usual good guy/bad guy teen angst story.

The one problem I had with the book is that it's written in that sort of aggressively terse, melodramatic style that's all the rage in YA books these days -- lots of one-sentence paragraphs, one-word sentences, and piles of tortured acts such as smashing one's hand into a chain-link fence and watching the blood flow. (If you've ever read a book by Jay Bennett, you know what I mean, but in fairness, it seems to be the prevailing style in YA these days.) The technique can be effective in short bursts, but over the course of an entire book can get wearing and repetitive.

Technical flaws aside, this book presents a complex and thought-provoking story, and it's one to seek out if you're looking for a worthwhile YA read.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Katherine Great review! I completely agree. Thanks for pointing out that some readers "may justifiably find Hannah nearly as petty and manipulative as she believed her tormentors to be." That's EXACTLY how I felt, and you made me realize that maybe that's what the author was trying to do- raise those questions.


Laura I read this a while ago, so I don't remember a lot of the details, but I do remember feeling very frustrated with Hannah.


Shanna author's last name is Asher


Laura Sorry, my mistake. (I must have been watching a Hal Ashby movie.) Corrected.


Sharon You pretty much summed up my thoughts on Hannah as well--I appreciated she wasn't all victim (like the character in Speak); that she, too, had flaws which made her feel far more believable. I also like your description of "aggressively terse, melodramatic style that's all the rage in YA books these days". Hah! So true. I felt the same way and usually put these kinds of books down after a chapter or so, but the format was so compelling.


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