Boof's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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's review
Mar 09, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: ya, read-in-2010, usa
Read in March, 2010

I’m finding this book really difficult to review. The main reason for this is that it’s a few years now since I was a teenager (OK, a great many years) and to do this review justice I am going to have to take myself back to those days; those days of of falling out with your best friend and it ruining your life for an afternoon, unrequited crushes, rumours and gossip that can make your life a misery for a whole day (which feels like a whole year when you’re that age). That’s where I need to place myself in order to get under Hannah’s skin as if I don’t this review will be completely different. In fact, let’s go there – let’s talk about what I thought reading it now and then talk about how I would have felt over 20 year ago.

I’ll start by saying that the premise is brilliant. A box of cassettes lands on your doorstep and when you play them, the voice coming through your speaker-phone is that of Hannah Baker. Only Hannah Baker killed herself two weeks ago. The young boy, Clay, is one of 13 people who will recieve these tapes in turn and each one of those 13 people contributed to why Hannah killed herself. An interview with the author at the end of the book says that he got the idea for the tapes when he was listening to an audio in a museum and he was fascinated with how spooky it was to listen to someones voice who wasn’t really there. That’s how it must have felt to Clay when he played the tapes – for not only was Hannah dead but Clay really liked her. How can he be one of the reasons for her wanting to kill herself? Clay takes the tapes and plays them on a walkman while he follows the map that Hannah also left to point out various places that mean something within her story like the park where she had her first kiss and the party that changed everything.

Adult Head
OK, so now onto what I thought: while reading this I decided that I didn’t actually like Hannah very much and had little sympathy for her most of the time. The things she was accusing people of doing to her (most of it unintentional) seemed (to my adult self) pretty lame in most cases. Hannah accuses people of not seeing the real her yet she makes little effort to make any real friends or to open up to others. Kids from her shcool are named and shamed as being one of the catalysts for her suicide and really they didn’t do much other than be normal high school kids. Don’t get me wrong, I know anyone who has read this book will be yelling at the screen “but what about so-and-so?” and yes, there were some horrible people who deserved their cummupance; Hannah was the victim of an untrue rumour that started the snowball effect of her downfall. So why am I so down on Hannah? The truth is, I don’t know. It could be that I’m over all the he-said-she-said school stuff, it could be becasue I’m a northerner and we’re well known up here for not being soft and “brushing ourselves down and just getting on with things”, it could be because Hannah seems so angry and vengeful – fancy making people listen to your last few days on earth and accusing them of putting you in an early grave! Suicidal people, from my understanding, tend to be in a depressive state, not a state of anger like Hannah is. She is bitter and wants people to pay. In my book, that makes her as bad as the people she claims to be the victim of – they will have to live with those tapes for the rest of their lives.

Teenage Head
Now onto my “teenage head”. If I had read this book in school I would have loved it, I know I would. At a time when every little thing is magnified to epic proportions, then I would have felt Hannah’s pain. I would have cried for her. She never really got the chance to fit in at her new school because a boy she liked over-egged the details of their first kiss and Hannah had to deal with the consequences for the next few years. As a teenager, I loved the dramatics and what Hannah did with the tapes would have had me punching the air for her – go Hannah! There are some very tender moments in this book too when you really begin to understand how one thing can snowball into another and before you know it you’re at rock bottom.

So, to conclude: I’m still as unsure about it as I was before. Good book? Yes, it’s a great book and quick read. But I still have my problem with Hannah. So my blunt northern self says “come on, pull yourself together, girl!”.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alaa I agree. Good review.

Jaclyn I'm still about a third of the way through, and actually really being drawn into this book, but I agree with your review so far.

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