Miranda Reads's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
71848701
's review

did not like it
bookshelves: 2018-finer-books-club-reading-chall

Wow. What a b*tch.
But...But...Miranda...how can you not love, cherish and worship a suicide book? Hannah was so brave, she dealt with life the best way she could...
Blah, blah, blah.

Are you sitting down?

Good, cause things are about to get ranty.
HUGE MOTHER-EFFING DISCLAIMER:

If you absolutely loved this book or if you think it really helped you through a tough time - I have absolutely no problem with that.

You are completely (and utterly) entitled to your opinion on this novel - just like I'm entitled to hate it with every fiber of my being.
My hatred can be split into four parts: The Message to the Target Audience, Glamorous Suicide, The Absolutely Terrible Excuse for A Main Character and Were you Raped? Sorry, it's Me Time Now.

The Message to the Target Audience - aka just kill yourself.

As an 25-year-old adult, I am able to read this book and take a step back to truly appreciate the full wrath of Hannah.

She's able to absolutely crumble the lives of the bullies, extract sweet revenge on her ex-friends and even get the boy she likes to admit that he really, really likes her.

And how does she do that? By killing herself.

Let me repeat that - she's able to accomplish all her wildest dreams By. Killing. Herself.

And the target audience? Preteens/teens that are already vulnerable. Kids who are already thinking of suicide and are curious to see what happens after.

And how does the author (a grown adult) advise them? Just kill yourself and everything will be better after you die.

I cannot begin to express how furious that made me.

Okay, okay. I will admit that there is another message - one of accepting, embracing and truly caring for your peers before something tragic happens...but, I'd like to remind you, how do we reach this conclusion?

Well, Hannah only had to off herself for this to happen. Kill yourself and the world becomes a better place.

Glamorous Suicide - aka suicide is a wondrous method to bring about change.

This is in a somewhat similar vein to the previous - but did anyone else notice how beautiful and poetical her suicide was?

How all the bullies were cowed. How all her friends regretted not appreciating her when she was alive. How everyone felt bad about not being nicer.

Even her suicide was a graceful fade-to-black.

The book doesn't show any negative repercussions for her actions - just that everything is better after she's gone.

And while (maybe) some kids may react the same as the ones portrayed in this book, I'd wager that most teens out there won't fall perfectly into the, "Oh-poor-Hannah-such-a-tragic-little-victim" category.

Most teens won't have the self-reflection and emotional awareness shown in this novel. She'll become a footnote, a blip on their radar, and they'll move on.

Absolutely Terrible Excuse for a Main Character - aka what a b*tch

I am of the firm belief that if something tragic, or some self-inflicted tragedy, befalls the main character, does not erase their sins.

Just because they did some grand, meaningful gesture, does not mean everything they did is given the rose-tinted glasses.

And what Hannah did was absolutely inexcusable.

Most suicides (according to google) are due to mental illness (90%) (i.e. clinical depression, bipolar, etc) or due to an impulse decision (triggered by a great tragedy/overwhelming circumstances).

From my (admittingly untrained) eye, Hannah experiences neither of these. And I believe that if the author wanted us to see either one of those cases, he would have made that abundantly clear.

Which makes Hannah's premeditated revenge odd, to say the least.

She picks out thirteen people who she's perceived wronged her and sets about to find the most hurtful and vengeful way to ruin their lives.

She wants to make her suicide count by destroying these other teen's lives so thoroughly that they become traumatized and absolutely terrified for the rest of their days.

So, who are these life-ruiners you ask?

Who are these absolute monsters who made Hannah's life a living hell? Pushing her every day closer to oblivion?

--Her first kiss -- now, the guy did brag that he got a bit further than a first kiss with her, but to pin her suicide on him? On a kid who likely felt inadequate and just wanted to seem older/experienced among his friend group?

--A friend who drifted apart from her -- sure this girl wasn't Hannah's bestie for life, but isn't she allowed to choose who her friends were? She and Hannah drifted apart, just like millions of girls throughout high school...but no Hannah has to make sure this girl KNOWS that stopping friendships with ANYONE is a direct cause for suicide.

-- A guy who said she has a nice ass -- I'm all for not objectifying women, but really? She's trying to pin her suicide on a teenage guy who said she has a nice ass.

--A nice girl who ended up not being super nice -- this girl was polite to Hannah, hung out a couple of times, but ultimately did not want to become best friends. Well, now she knows that if she is not ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY NICE AND FRIENDLY with everyone she meets, then they may kill themselves in revenge.

--A guidance counselor who didn't stop her suicide -- while this counselor did not handle the situation perfectly, Hannah absolutely roasts him for not stopping her, to which I say, really Hannah? How could he could solve everything in one 10-minute after-school conversation?

But for the most part, everyone who Hannah blames are kids too - just teenagers with their own troubles, trials and tribulations.

They're wading through the murky waters of high school with as much direction as Hannah.

And in her anger, fury and spite, she puts them all on the same playing field.

The peeping Tom and rapist somehow contributed equally to the guy who stole the compliments from her compliment box.

Apparently, no one commenting about your haircut is just as likely to send you into a suicidal spiral as privacy violations.

Were you Raped? Sorry, it's Me Time Now - aka My God Hannah, What's Wrong With You?

I will admit there were some of the kids that had it coming (i.e. the rapist and the peeping Tom) - they should have been called out on their actions.

But, instead of going to the authorities and actually doing something about this, Hannah just outs them in one of her tapes.

And, it gets better, she never sends a tape to the rapist.

Instead, she sends it to her ex-friend, the girl who was drunk and barely conscious throughout the rape, and Hannah blames her suicide on her.

That's right, the RAPE victim learns that she's RAPED on Hannah's suicide tape, that Hannah (and the boy the rape victim liked) did nothing about it.

AND what's Hannah's interpretation? You, ex-friend, caused my suicide cause you didn't want to be friends for life.

And to that I say:

A) GOOD RIDDANCE. Dropping Hannah like a hot tamale was obviously the right choice.

B) Can you even begin to imagine learning that happened to you while your so-called friend was hanging out in the closet of the same room?

And what was Hannah doing?

What was SO CRAZY IMPORTANT that she just couldn't stop her friend from being raped?

Having a tipsy mental breakdown because A) the boy she liked her tried to kiss her and B) when she said no, he stopped.

Excuse me, but how was THAT more important that preventing an ex-friend from getting RAPED?

Literally all Hannah had to do was step out of the closet and scare him off.

But noooooo, Hannah decides to make the suicide tapes (LONG after all the evidence has been washed away) to let everyone know that she's the victim.

That SHE deserves the pity and sympathy.

I'm sorry, I'm sure there are many (MANY) ways to interpret this book, but I just can't see feeling sympathy for the girl who killed herself over "nice ass" and "friends not staying friends" vs the one who was raped while her best friend/guy-she-liked watched and then was blamed for a suicide.

This is the sort of revenge Hannah decides to extract on these teens.

It's unforgivable.

I can't believe I wasted my time with this. .
ANOTHER BIG MOTHER-EFFING DISCLAIMER (cause apparently my first one was not enough)

Yes, this is my opinion. This is my interpretation of this novel. Is it the right one? Maybe and maybe not.

If this book is perfect in your eyes, if it really saved you, I am not discounting that experience.

This book has a LOT of potential to bring about difficult discussions but I feel that the way it is written is problematic (to say the least). But again, this is one take on the novel.
Audiobook Comments
The one thing I couldn't fault this book on was the choice of narrators. Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman were absolutely perfect throughout this book. The way they played off of each other, the way they conveyed emotions - amazing through and through.

The 2018 Finer Books Club Reading Challenge - A book with a number in the title
483 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Thirteen Reasons Why.
Sign In »

Comments Showing 1-50 of 150 (150 new)


Ellie Reads You are my idle ( # not the best speller)

Y~O~U~~~A~R~E~~~M~Y~~~I~D~L~E


message 2: by Tatevik (new)

Tatevik Najaryan I didn't read the book but I think that sentence sums up the book 👀


message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Diane Loved the show...it hit home for me and showed the truth behind schools and bullying.


MCMXCII I made it through maybe like 30-40% before I DNF'd this and I felt like the plot was really weird and, like you said, I didn't get a sense of her being depressed or that her reasons for killing herself made sense. It just seemed like some people wronged her and she wanted to get back at them. So she killed herself. But I didn't finish the book, but it doesnt sound like the explanation for her suicide gets any better. I thought the concept was intriguing but executed poorly. I never watched the show because I didn't think it would be much better.


message 5: by KC (new) - added it

KC As someone who’s been battling violent depression for over 5 years, I’ve never understood the hype and adoration surrounding this book – so, thank you so much for solidifying my beliefs and showing it’s not just me being sensitive.


Miranda Reads Ellie Reads wrote: "You are my idle ( # not the best speller)

Y~O~U~~~A~R~E~~~M~Y~~~I~D~L~E"


LOL - thank you :)


Miranda Reads Tatevik wrote: "I didn't read the book but I think that sentence sums up the book 👀"

Pretty much. She's so spiteful but keeps trying to pass it off as a grand, beautiful and tragic gesture.


Miranda Reads Elizabeth wrote: "Loved the show...it hit home for me and showed the truth behind schools and bullying."

I haven't seen the show, but I do think the message - of having empathy and understanding for your fellow peers - is truly one to internalize. I just hate the way it goes about this.


Miranda Reads Christina wrote: "I made it through maybe like 30-40% before I DNF'd this and I felt like the plot was really weird and, like you said, I didn't get a sense of her being depressed or that her reasons for killing her..."

Yeahhhh....if anything it got more ridiculous as time got on. Completely and utterly garbage.


Miranda Reads KC wrote: "As someone who’s been battling violent depression for over 5 years, I’ve never understood the hype and adoration surrounding this book – so, thank you so much for solidifying my beliefs and showing..."

It's definitely not just you. This book gets so much undeserved hype. It has a terrible message and yet it's praised as this great work of literature. Makes me furious.


Lizzy (Bent Bookworm) This is why I haven't even picked it up. I didn't like the way it sounded from jump.


message 12: by Silvia Andrito (new)

Silvia Andrito Wow, sounds like a horror story. Had heard of the book and have seen the commercials for the show, but anything that glamorizes suicide is not my cup of tea so have stayed away from it. Glad to know I made the right decision.


message 13: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Wonderful review.


message 14: by Wilmar (new)

Wilmar Luna When this show went on Netflix, I remember thinking to myself "Why TF is Netflix putting up a show that promotes suicide?" And the worst part, according to your review, most of her reasons for hurting other people were petty and childish.

This message of this book seems to be that no matter how small the reason, you need to get revenge on the people who wronged you. Instead of teaching forgiveness, or letting bygones be bygones, it encourages kids to kill themselves so that they feel like they matter.

Horrible message and one that I will never support. Great review.


message 15: by Diane (new)

Diane Honest review, Miranda!


message 16: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Diane It does NOT promote suicide. I watched it with my brother who has been bullied and it opened up a dialouge about how we treat others and how suicide is not the answer. He used to cut himself.


message 17: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Diane Obviously no one has had a school ignore signs or act like their family member doesn't matter. These things are happening at school and adults don't even know. We used the show as a learning tool together. It helped him express feelings that otherwise might not have been known.


Miranda Reads Lizzy (Bent Bookworm) wrote: "This is why I haven't even picked it up. I didn't like the way it sounded from jump."

I was really hesitant about picking this one up as well....kinda wishing I didn't now :P


Miranda Reads Silvia Andrito wrote: "Wow, sounds like a horror story. Had heard of the book and have seen the commercials for the show, but anything that glamorizes suicide is not my cup of tea so have stayed away from it. Glad to kno..."

It really does glamorize. Not a huge fan of that.


Miranda Reads Carmen wrote: "Wonderful review."

Thank you :)


Miranda Reads Wilmar wrote: "When this show went on Netflix, I remember thinking to myself "Why TF is Netflix putting up a show that promotes suicide?" And the worst part, according to your review, most of her reasons for hurt..."

Yeahhhh....Netflix missed its mark with that one.


Miranda Reads Diane wrote: "Honest review, Miranda!"

Thank you Diane.


Miranda Reads Elizabeth wrote: "It does NOT promote suicide. I watched it with my brother who has been bullied and it opened up a dialouge about how we treat others and how suicide is not the answer. He used to cut himself."

That's a really good point. I think it can be very useful for opening a dialogue between a responsible adult and a child, however (and this is why I put a disclaimer in my review), I feel like the book does not go far enough.

It never shows Hannah dealing with her problems, seeking help directly (besides a very round-about why-doesn't-anyone-notice-me way) or any healthy coping methods. Instead, she kills herself and blames the world for it. And the book praises her for it by showing how people changed only after she died.

I definitely agree in your case it helped open a difficult conversation, but everyone reacts to this book differently.


message 24: by Shaina (new) - added it

Shaina Well that sums that up quite nicely.


♠ TABI ♠ when I first read the book I really didn't think about it, and now several years later I think I need to go back with fresh eyes cause, yeah it seems that this book has helped a lot of people, but for the most part all the reviews I've read since reading the book myself have shown how absolutely problematic it is. And I think your review has shown that in a very precise and concise manner, which I really appreciated xD


Amanda Unfortunately I had to read this for a class, so I didn't have the option of DNFing. Instead, I settled for writing a bunch of swear words and epithets in the margins, because this books is THE WORST. I loved your review--it perfectly encapsulated everything I hated about this atrocious piece of filth.


Miranda Reads Shaina wrote: "Well that sums that up quite nicely."

Thank you.


Miranda Reads ♠ Tabi ♠ wrote: "when I first read the book I really didn't think about it, and now several years later I think I need to go back with fresh eyes cause, yeah it seems that this book has helped a lot of people, but ..."

I agree, it helped a bunch of folks but at the same time, i wonder how many people weren't helped by this one...?


Miranda Reads Amanda wrote: "Unfortunately I had to read this for a class, so I didn't have the option of DNFing. Instead, I settled for writing a bunch of swear words and epithets in the margins, because this books is THE WOR..."

LOL - love your petty revenge. You are my idol.


Ashley Bridges Yeah when I first read this book, as a 14-15 year old, I was like 'wow cool gr8 A++ book' but definitely looking back on it the themes are very troubling and not great. Me as a 26 year old who fully understands the themes meaning and is slightly more put together I can still enjoy(?) this book bc it's not influencing my thoughts and decisions and I have a better understanding of the themes and how not great it all is. If that makes sense. But I fully agree with this review.


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Best review ever! God I hate this fucking book....


message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom Lewis Awesome review Miranda!! And that was such an important message to get across.


J & J "Romeo and Juliet" is REQUIRED reading in many, many schools per their states' standards...not all that different than what's going on in Thirteen Reasons Why


MCMXCII @Ashley that totally makes sense! You are still capable of enjoying a problematic book and characters. I often read books with problematic relationships and characters and completely and utterly love them! I look at it like this, I know better and wouldn't choose to make these decisions in my real life so why not be entertained by this problematic book. Lol I used to be so ashamed to like problematic books, but now, I dont give a f**k! 😋😋😎😎 So I totally get you!


Mugdha Perfect review


message 36: by J.A. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.A. Ironside The only positive I found about this book when I initially read it was that it had a sort of commentary on the insidious and endemic presence of rape culture that basically teaches girls that their bodies are not their own. Having said that the MC responds to everything that happens to her in the absolute worst way possible. She never accepts responsibility for her actions or does anything to improve her own life and perspective. I hated her and I despised her weakness. I agree it's a terrible and unrealistic portrayal of suicide.
Excellent review, Miranda :)

(Also Romeo and Juliet, while arguably 1600s YA, is not about suicide. That's the outcome of everything going wrong and a BIG TRAUMATIC EVENT happening to each of the MCs. Shakespeare never glorifies it. He actually took a cautionary Italian tale about what happens if you don't obey your parents, and turned it on its head to tell a story about choices, inherited prejudice between families and growing maturity. Even when those choices weren't good ones, the MCs take responsibility for their actions. It is so not the same thing as 13 reasons!)


Miranda Reads Ashley wrote: "Yeah when I first read this book, as a 14-15 year old, I was like 'wow cool gr8 A++ book' but definitely looking back on it the themes are very troubling and not great. Me as a 26 year old who full..."

I agree - I'm at the stage in my life where I can disconnect from the novel's narrative and enjoy moments of it. However, looking back on it...it has some problematic messages


Miranda Reads Sarah wrote: "Best review ever! God I hate this fucking book...."

LOL - me too!


Miranda Reads Tom wrote: "Awesome review Miranda!! And that was such an important message to get across."

Thank you Tom!


Miranda Reads Jona & Joslyn wrote: ""Romeo and Juliet" is REQUIRED reading in many, many schools per their states' standards...not all that different than what's going on in Thirteen Reasons Why"

Yeahhhh....both have teens making off-the-wall decisions, but at least with R&J they don't do it for a pseudo revenge plot to get back at people who've done them wrong :(


Miranda Reads Mugdha wrote: "Perfect review"

Thank you !!


Miranda Reads J.A. wrote: "The only positive I found about this book when I initially read it was that it had a sort of commentary on the insidious and endemic presence of rape culture that basically teaches girls that their..."

That's a really good point about the rape-culture aspect of the novel. I agree, that (for the most part) was really well-done (minus the scene where the MC LITERALLY has to open a door to stop a rape but doesn't cause she's "soooo drunk" and not "in a good mind-place".

And as for the R&J - really good point, never thought of it like that before!


message 43: by J.A. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.A. Ironside Miranda wrote: "J.A. wrote: "The only positive I found about this book when I initially read it was that it had a sort of commentary on the insidious and endemic presence of rape culture that basically teaches gir..."

Yes. I don't think I hated the MC more than at the point where she just lets her comatose friend get raped without comment and then leaves her a fucking tape to tell her what happened!


message 44: by Patrick (new)

Patrick That's such insightful commentary. I've never thought about it like that.


message 45: by Fiona✨ (new) - added it

Fiona✨ I've read this book a long time ago and I thought I absolutely loved it back then, but there was always something that bothered me with it. 14 year old me just couldn't really put her finger on what it was, exactly. I kinda felt obligated to like it back then because all my friends did, after all. With your review tho you pointed out my own problems with it perfectly. Thank you so much for that. I'm honestly baffled and shocked about the fact that some schools choose this as required reading.


message 46: by Rachel (last edited Nov 09, 2018 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Rachel I absolutely agree with you. Both book and show glorify suicide and mental health issues (and the show has a LOT of other issues), they (in my opinion) use mental illness as a crutch for a quirk or 'cute' or 'cool' character trait while misrepresenting all of it.


Erin-Elizabeth THANK YOU! 🙌 I’m glad I’m not the only one who rated this 1 star. I work with teenagers and could not believe what I was reading. Dangerous, ignorant writing.


Rachel Erin-Elizabeth wrote: "THANK YOU! 🙌 I’m glad I’m not the only one who rated this 1 star. I work with teenagers and could not believe what I was reading. Dangerous, ignorant writing."

Erin, exactly. I've heard of schools sending warning emails out to teenagers and heard of copycat suicides where tapes were left behind. We need to talk about mental health more, but not like this.


Miranda Reads J.A. wrote: "Miranda wrote: "J.A. wrote: "The only positive I found about this book when I initially read it was that it had a sort of commentary on the insidious and endemic presence of rape culture that basic..."

Oh my gosh. Yes. That was just so garbage of her


Miranda Reads Patrick wrote: "That's such insightful commentary. I've never thought about it like that."

Thank you


« previous 1 3
back to top