Hannah's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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Jul 27, 11

I figured this deserved a real review.

I'm a bipolar chick. I'm a girl who has struggled with suicidal thoughts since she was nine years old at the very latest. And I just do not buy 13RW's representation of a suicidal girl. The very premise of the book is flawed to me; you don't kill yourself for REASONS, you kill yourself because there is a bug in your brain gnawing at you and sucking out any valuable thought you've ever had, and I never saw that kind of bug in Hannah. I saw a girl who killed herself because boys were mean to her, and I think that if you reversed the sexes and made it a boy who killed himself for Hannah's reasons, no one would have bought it.

It's a symptom of a larger epidemic you see all the times in discussions of girls with mental illness. Boys are legitimately fucked up and have genuine struggles with mental health, but girls are hysterical. Hannah's depression is entirely circumstantial, as is her suicide, and I just do not buy it.

Not to mention I think it's a complete cop-out to have Clay be the only guy on the list who didn't fuck her up. Of COURSE the narrator didn't screw up, right?

It was compelling, I'll give it that. I read it in one night about five years ago.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 134) (134 new)

message 1: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe I was just talking to a friend about this one, and how much it frustrated me. Like, deeply, fundamentally frustrated me--a frustration I feel every time I'm reminded of it, too.

Sometimes people say that kind of a reaction is a mark of a good book, but I don't feel sure that's even the case here.

Hannah The problem with this book is that it was definitely suspenseful and compelling--I stayed up very late reading it in one sitting--but it left me feeling so disgusted and so...offended that it still bothers me. Of all the books I've read, I think this is the one I have the strongest feminist objection to. I'm disgusted that someone thinks these are the problems that lead girls to kill themselves.

No one would ever believe this list if it were the reasons a guy killed himself. But I guess all the problems girls have stem from the ways boys treat them, right? Poor little girls.

Offends me so hard.

message 3: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth YES. I totally agree with you two. (Sorry to crash the party here, but...)I read this one about two years ago. And I read it in about an hour, honestly sped through it. And then when I was finished, I was so confused that I could read a book at such speed because oh my god the suspense, and yet hate it so much. Also, I despised BookHannah and wanted to tell her to get over herself because, Hannah's right, this excaberates the double standard between men and women so much. I also couldn't believe that *spoiler* BookHannah wanted us to feel sorry for her after rape everything that happened to Jessica.

But I also think that this one is offensive to BOTH men and women: yep, all girls' problems stem from the way guys treat them and they have no adequate way of dealing with them. But all other guys (minus Clay) are sex-obsessed assholes who objectify women and have zero depth except to make BookHannah feel bad about herself. Pfft.

Sorry. This one just bugged me so much that I decided to crash your party and empty my pockets.

Hannah Beth, you're TOTALLY right.

I also think it was the biggest cop-out in the world that OF COURSE Clay didn't do anything wrong. Of course he's the one who was on there for a good reason. Give me a fuckin break.

message 5: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe I'll be honest: Clay kinda reminded me of this guy: http://xkcd.com/513/

message 6: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth Hahaha at the webcomic, Phoebe. Clay reminds me of him, too, and actually, a lot of male best friends from books do.

I also think it was the biggest cop-out in the world that OF COURSE Clay didn't do anything wrong. Of course he's the one who was on there for a good reason. Give me a fuckin break."

That one gave me a strong reaction, too. I had had a moment of shock with most of the "reasons why" and when BookHannah started saying, "Clay, honey, you shouldn't be here..." or however the fuck it started - I wanted to rip the pages from the book. I wasn't expecting Asher to turn ohsoperfect Clay into a villian, but I was hoping for at least a moment of shock! Horror! Even dim surprise. But no...just complete disappointment.

Cory Phoebe wrote: "I'll be honest: Clay kinda reminded me of this guy: http://xkcd.com/513/"

Now that was brilliant.

I'm surprised you guys feel so strongly about the book. But I can see your problems with it. I read it all in one sitting about three years ago and didn't really think much of it afterwards.

I'm with you on the Villian!Clay thing though. That would have been interesting.

message 8: by Dinjolina (new)

Dinjolina Cory wrote: "I'm surprised you guys feel so strongly about the book. But I can see your problems with it. I read it all in one sitting about three years ago and didn't really think much of it afterwards. "

It was kind of meh for me.
Ohh...look!The author wanted a lot of drama.Let somebody die.
No....lets see about the ones left behind and their lessons learned.A book has to have a strong point.
Clay will live on and fall in love freely.People should live on message.Check!
Angst angst angst,unreasonable and unresponsible suicide angst(because you show people all the STUPIDEST reasons why they should take their life and you put it in YA!Man,are you brave.)

Boring.And it had to be a bad book if i was bored by a girl that took her life.

Hannah For real, guys. And amazing comic link! I'd forgotten about that one.

message 10: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth I thought that this book just gave such a 'wrong' message, and while I don't mean to offend you, Hannah (not bookHannah, who I would gladly offend from here to next year), I think it's one that goes through a lot of young pretty immature minds: 'if I kill myself, everyone will feel bad for the way they treated me. Everyone will regret that they did all these horrible things to me, and I'll show them then.' But it felt to me like Asher was saying that was a *good* thing.

message 11: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth also, the only reason I was reading it so quickly was because I was DESPERATE to find out the horrible thing that Clay had done!

message 12: by Beth (new) - rated it 1 star

Beth Wow, I have such immense hate for this book that I've just spammed Hannah's thread with it. moving swiftly on...

message 13: by Cory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cory Okay. I had to come back and like this now that you actually added a review. Yeah, now I completely see where you're coming from.

Surprised you didn't hit on the weird psuedo-sexism thing though.

Hannah It's been a while since I read it, what do you mean?

message 15: by Cory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cory Hannah's obsession with how guys viewed her sexually. I found that more problematic than the way suicide was portrayed (of course, I knew nothing about depression or suicide at the time and it's been nearly two years since I've read the book).

But every single one of her reasons revolved around sex or a guy. I found it odd. I might go back and re-read it to see how my taste has changed since then.

Hannah Yes. That was a huge problem for me.

message 17: by Reut (new) - rated it 4 stars

Reut I read this one a while ago, and I remember really liking it. It affected me and changed how I think about how things affect other people. But honestly, in the past few days, I'm seeing flaws in it. Like I said, I read it a while ago, so my ability to read critically was not as developed.

I'm kind of disappointed that there are obvious flaws in something I thought was amazing at the time, but I know I'll have to re-read this one to form a final conclusion.

message 18: by Jordyn (new)

Jordyn Phoebe wrote: "I was just talking to a friend about this one, and how much it frustrated me. Like, deeply, fundamentally frustrated me--a frustration I feel every time I'm reminded of it, too.

Sometimes people s..."

Pheobe, I totally agree with you on this one.

message 19: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Egbert Although I enjoyed the book more than you did, I do see what you're saying and you do make good points.

Savannah Austin I understand where you are coming from. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts and my sister attempted suicide, but you can not blame Asher for his writing technique. Of course, Hannah thought that she killed herself for REASONS and blamed everyone else on her death, but there was a bug in her brain. Obviously, you have never been bullied, because I was throughout my entire life which led me to believe that no one cared for me. Therefore, I contemplated suicide, but never went through with it. People commit suicide for different reasons and these were Hannah's reasons, although she did not understand that no one wanted her to die(especially Clay). I hope you understand this.

Stephen At the same time though, you have to realize that Hannah's situation is different than yours. She was relentlessly bullied by boys and girls of her age. She dug herself into such a deep hole that it would've been almost impossible for her to get out unless she had professional help - which she never received. Also, nobody really knew how to help her because a lot of people don't know how to help others with depression or suicidal thoughts.

message 22: by Noel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Noel have u not seen the news in the last year? teens r killing themselves everyday just because of bullies. her situation may be different than yours but it doesnt mean that its unrealistic

Pauline See as someone who was suicidal myself, I viewed the book in a different way than how you did. I thought it could have actually really happened. When I was reading this book, it actually triggered some thought processes in my own life. I never hated life. I never hated myself. I hated the way that I was treated, by peers, by the neglect of the teachers and staff and the list goes on.

Hannah's (the character) in the book represented to me what many people can think about. I mean this in terms of--struggling to find yourself while other people talk about you/tease you/harass you...on top of what is going on in your own home. These kids-didn't understand what was or wasn't going on in Hannah's own home. These kids didn't see how many other people were talking about her negatively. These kids didn't understand what Hannah was thinking and more importantly NEVER even asked about her and what she thought. Was it selfish? Sure. Was how she went about telling the story selfish? Sure was. But I think it was her intention of making people realize that YOU may not be the only person in this person's life to make her feel miserable. That maybe you should step back and realize that there is a human being that is being attacked.

Pauline And as I said-these kids bullying her, didn't know her guilt of freezing up while a classmate was being raped. And God only knows what went on in her own home...did dad abuse mom? did brothers abuse her? did dad abuse her? Was it just neglect (and even if it was-these classmates didn't know it, so just add one more mark against the person Hannah is).

Heather Truett I was suicidal as a teen. Of course it is the sickness, but I was undiagnosed. I felt I had reasons for wanting to kill myself.

What I liked about this hook was the versions of events. We can never know how someone else sees and interprets the things that happen each day. To me, this book can remind the teens who read it that they have power and should pay attention.

message 26: by Eunice (new) - added it

Eunice i honestly liked this book :)

Emily McClintock I think that the original review had some pints but here's the thing, it's a book about not only teenage suicide but being a teenage girl, and though your feminism detests this, as a teenager a majority of life is run my teenage boys. And beyond that the book was about bullying and hope and courage and how little things can build and make a non depressed non suicidal person suicidal. It's about how if one person had the courage to say something, to give her hope, it would changed everything. It's a young adult book aimed at making teens think about how critical and dismissive they can be, and how that one idea can affect everything else in someone's life. I think the original reviewer missed that.

BasilH I was going to write my first book review on this website because I felt so strongly about this novel, but this review seems to sum up perfectly what I wanted to say. I'm glad others can mentally escape the compelling nature of the book itself and realize that the overall message is absolutely false and furthermore, offensive. I'd just like to add that what touched a nerve with me most was this book's trivialization of Hannah's life. A person's death by suicide is not just a bid for attention and most definitely not a game, something they plan out like a scavenger hunt. Most suicides don't even leave a note of any kind behind.

message 29: by Dee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dee This summed up everything I wanted to say bout this book.

Vanessa You do kill yourself because of the bug in your brain, not for reasons. I very much agree. But usually the people who do kill themselves give themselves reason, almost 100% of the time. I have a very bipolar friend who makes her sadness about her ex-boyfriend of 3 months that she dated at 13. So, that point is kind of null.

message 31: by Alison (new)

Alison Evans Thanks for this review, I was considering reading the book but now I know not to waste my time :)

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

some people are driven to it for reasons not just cuz of a bug, you dont need to be diagnosed to feel like she did in the book. look at the facts, did every teen tht commited suicide have a condition? nope

Christine I, the same as you. But I could feel Hannah's.

April I walked away from the book with the thought that Hannah's "reasons" were intentionally situational, so that the reader would know that even though bad things happen to us all, it doesn't justify killing yourself and blaming everyone around you. I think Clay even says something to that effect towards the end of the novel. But that's just what I felt the story is trying to tell the reader.
Also, not every single person who has a suicidal thought is someone with a diagnosable mental illness, if that's what you're suggesting by mentioning bipolar disorder and the "bug in the brain." Lots of people commit suicide after the sudden death of a loved one, or upon finding out the have a terminal illness. It's not fair to define the factors leading one to feel suicidal based solely upon one's personal experience.

Breanna I just want to say something. Your points are not good. You may not think these are reasons that someone would kill themselves but you are you and hannah is hannah. The way 2 people think is never the same you may have your reasons for suicidal thought or as you said one huge overall reasons. But little things like what is mentioned in the book can also cause it. It depends on who you are and how those little things make you feel.

Breanna Oh and being a teen myself I can see why those reasons caused hannah to commit suicide. Now me myself I have never had suicidal thought but I see why hannah did after all those scenarios.

Elizabeth I also back this review 100 percent!!!
Also, I've been waiting for someone to make the "angel narrator" point. LOL

Christina Wilder Excellent review. This book certainly had strong points, but believability isn't one of them.

I have yet to see a portrayal of depression (which I have) that is accurate in ANY form of media.

Sometimes I wonder if I should write a story concerning depression, but I've yet to think of a plot.

Maggie Douglas This is the first time I have not heard someone say it was the best book ever written.

I thought it was terrible. Hannah, you're right: She wouldn't have killed herself for "reasons." My frustration went further than that, though. It wasn't suspenseful or enthralling to me at all. She was so pretentious and know-it-all about her peers and their wrongdoings. She was pointing fingers to them the whole time. Even Clay (who, by the way, had no character development at all) got his own "reason." The girl was stuck-up and had it all wrong.

This book is celebrated for its subject matter. No one is sensitive enough to realize it isn't well-written.

Celett I agree completely. I've had some pretty low moments, and none of them were due to such clear, specific events. Seriously, who gets accused of stealing someone's boyfriend, deals with a peeping tom, witnesses a rape, AND inadvertently "causes" a fatal car crash? While there are some extreme experiences, like abuse or rape, that might cause a person to consider suicide, I think the cause is often subtler and internal. I think a more interesting issue to explore might have been Hannah failing to understand her own depression and attributing it solely to the negative people in her life. They contributed to her rejection of the world, but I don't buy that they would have the only cause of it.

Sskyzee Totally agree that's also what I felt reading it. It was too focused on the actual events, which usually comes second to illogical/irrational/emotional thoughts.

message 42: by Becka (new) - added it

Becka Although this is a work of fiction, I don't think you're taking into account the differences of the human emotion and the way others interpret problems or even feelings for that matter.

Sskyzee Becka wrote: "Although this is a work of fiction, I don't think you're taking into account the differences of the human emotion and the way others interpret problems or even feelings for that matter."

Hmmm to me the way he wrote it made me feel she didn't have much feelings to speak of. I thought her "story" was too matter of fact. I dont know about anyone else but to me it didnt ring true.

Carrie Hinkel-Gill I've been where Hannah was, and to be honest, if she really, really wanted help, she would have begged for it. I remember when I told my mom I was bad off and I needed help. She asked if it can wait. I told her no because I needed the help now! I got it. That's why I couldn't buy Hannah's statement of how much she wanted help, because she really didn't. So, in this aspect, the author failed to convince me the character actually wanted help.

Jivani (Reviewer)Hannah, is completely right. I'm currently reading this novel and I keep finding reasons to put it down in the midst of, say, chapter 3. I find it so misconstrued, everyone in the media portrays this as such an excellent YA read, when in actuality, it's probably the least most accurate and entertaining novel out there.

Asher uses incorrect punctuation when she says "Alex and me". It should be "Alex and I'. That bothered me so much, but the way she exaggerated normalcy and slight acts of bullying to push (Book)Hannah over the edge, was so stupid. It was almost as though she was mocking the female race, and their views on suicide. (Book)Hannah committed suicide over the most ignorant things. She was confused with her sexuality, and hell, most people are!

Asher couldn't get a grip on her characters, either. Some of the things Clay 'said' was so vague, like he himself didn't even know what he was saying. He kept trying to convince himself he was listening to the tapes because he "needed to", or something, but it was because he was completely besotted with this girl. He wanted to be apart of the thirteen tapes, at least, that's the way I saw it. The emotion wasn't convincing, and the whole story was so ambiguous when it came to various descriptions of what it's actually like to go through something as painful as suicide. It was almost as though I had gone back in time to when I was in eighth grade, and attempted to write a novel on a serious topic.

The most annoying thing about the book was that I was constantly torn between wanting to sympathise with (Book)Hannah, or hate her even more. She was whiny, and a nuisance to herself. She killed herself over minor issues, that could be solved so easily. It's like Asher was trying to proclaim teenage girls as ignorant assholes who think the world revolves around themselves. The world clearly doesn't; it revolves around a Sun.

Davina No offence, but I feel as though you have taken your own experience and viewpoint and treated it as though it is fact, when quite frankly it's not. You may not buy it, but you clearly missed the main lesson told in the story: you can't know what's going on inside anyone else's head but your own. For someone who hasn't been suicidal, I found this story extremely relatable. It is hard to make such a controversial topic easy for those who haven't gone through it to understand. Maybe Hannah's suicide came about for reasons different to your own, or for reasons that you don't understand. But that doesn't make it a 'cop-out'. It just proves that everyone has different ways of coping with things.

message 47: by J.H. (new)

J.H. Trumble Oh, good. I'm not the only. It felt overly dramatic to me. And I just didn't buy the motivation.

Davina Becka wrote: "Although this is a work of fiction, I don't think you're taking into account the differences of the human emotion and the way others interpret problems or even feelings for that matter."

Vanessa I don't think you guys understand that she was raped.

Jennifer I also felt it was a cop out to let Clay off the hook. If you're going to tackle such gritty subjects, do it all the way. Don't pander to your audience by making the narrator the only "good guy."

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