Erin's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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's review
Oct 03, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: dark, own, plot-twist, little-romance, past-and-present-collide, multiple-narrators


It was compelling, I guess. The chapters pull you along, in a "just one more" kind of way. Something about it just seemed off to me, though.

Oh, Hannah. You grow tiresome. Your post mortem reign of terror is slightly sociopathic, to be honest. Most people on her list didn't deserve to be put through such torture. And the ones who did deserve it, ironically, were the ones who were too far gone to care.

Maybe I should sum this up or something. But I'm guessing the two people who will read my review already know the plot. Here it is, anyway: Hannah Baker kills herself. But before she does, she picks 13 unlucky souls to blame and sets up a chain letter from hell. Basically she tape records these long rants on "ohhh I'm so sad that you all are SO MEAN. why do you have to be SO MEAN." There are like, three instances in the whole book that anyone (Hannah or our narrator, Clay) acknowledges that it's actually 100% Hannah's decision to kill herself. Ugh.

There was one part I really, really liked. Hannah also gives each of her killers/victims a map, so they can take a twisted little tour of all the places around town where they made her feel bad. Clay follows it, and winds up at the house of one of the guys who hurt Hannah. He realizes that the other kids who have gotten the tapes before him have been throwing rocks through this guy's window. To me it was a really poignant scene. I loved the moral ambiguity it established-- you'd like to assume that Hannah's plan has made everyone examine their own actions and repent, but nope. One of the guys who actually did something awful to Hannah is on the scene, trying to tempt Clay to hurl a rock through this other guy's window. Marcus, the jerkface one, clearly feels no remorse for his actions, and pretty much says: "I didn't do anything wrong; she was just looking for a reason to kill herself."

It was a thought-provoking scene in an otherwise bland novel. Clay, our protagonist, is an empty vessel who exists solely to move the plot and react to Hannah's words. It goes:

Hannah: So-and-so did something mean, so I killed myself!
Clay: OH GOD! *cries*

I think what made this book so unsettling to me was its strange representation of suicide in teens. I know not everyone who kills themself suffers from depression, but really? She killed herself because someone started a rumor about her? This is high school, Hannah. It happens. Try having an actual problem. And although her age was unclear, it sounded like she was a junior, maybe. Does she honestly have that little sense of perspective? College is just around the corner. She wasn't stuck in that town forever, the opportunity for escape was literally right there.

So... overall what bothered me was her trivial reasons to kill herself, followed by the audacity to actually blame this on people who hardly did anything to her.

If this novel gives any self-absorbed teens any ideas... say, to kill themselves and then use their suicide letter to vindictively blame it on others... someone should find the author and, er, tell him.

Ack. The more I think about it, the more disgusting I find Hannah's actions. I'm just going to hit save now and back away from my computer.


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