C.G. Drews's Reviews > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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did not like it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2014, young-adult, mental-illness

EDIT AND UPDATE, 2017: I read this book back in 2014 when I was a teen and I hated it. I still hate it. My review is getting a lot of traffic atm so I'm just going to do a little update and leave you some links to better reviews that tell how problematic the story is:

Tweet thread on the problematic show.
Article on why it's dangerous.
Goodreads review on why it's seriously bad.

NOTE: I'm not responding to comments because wtf is going on in the comment section I have no idea. I'm sorry my review is more distraught and emotional than analytical and full of logical reasoning. I don't care if you like this book, but be respectful of people who say it's triggering, problematic, and sends a dangerous message about romanticising suicide and condoning revenge suicide. I have also had to talk someone down from killing themselves and let me tell you: It was the worst moment of my life. I still nearly cry when I think about it. Because if they'd gone ahead to kill themselves, would I be to blame? Any book that says that yes I would be to blame (like this book is saying) is poisonous.

Please don't read it if you've had suicidal thoughts or know people who've committed suicide. You won't be encouraged. You'll be triggered.

***


I absolutely loathed this book. And that’s saying something , because heck knows I always have positives to say about a book and I don’t like to judge them too harshly. But this one? No. I hated it. I hated the message the author was sending. I think it was wrong and cruel. Obviously, this is just my opinion! But I will enver recommend this book.

Obviously it’s about suicide. And I feel like the message was (so wrong ) that everyone is to blame for one person’s suicide. To a certain extent, that can be true. Bullying, however subtle and off-handed IS SO VERY WRONG. But Hannah’s whole send-the-tapes-to-the-people-who-were-involved-in-her-death was a very kamikaze effect. She was going down no matter what, SO let’s take some suckers along. I personally believe what Hannah did by sending those tapes out (view spoiler) was cruel and malicious bullying. She was just as guilty, and more so, then any of the kids that teased her, because she then ruined and destroyed 13 lives. I hate that.

I hate the message this book sends. I hate that it is OKAY for Hannah to have sent those tapes. I hate how she could have, potentially, sent 13 other people to kill THEMSELVES because of what she said about them on the tapes. I hate how Clay even GOT the tapes. (It was totally against the rules she set up.)

I was so angry and so distressed when I finished this book, it almost turned me off reading. Honestly. I’ve read 70 books this year, and it’s only April. I LOVE BOOKS. And this made me hate them oh-so-much. My opinion is definitely a minority, but I’m entitled to it, so, gah, I’m letting myself have a miniature rant for once.

This book is in no way okay.
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Reading Progress

January 30, 2014 – Shelved
January 30, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
April 17, 2014 – Started Reading
April 17, 2014 –
page 148
51.39% "Wow...this is very intense. And sad."
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: contemporary
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 24, 2014 – Finished Reading
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: mental-illness

Comments Showing 1-50 of 70 (70 new)


Ramisa R This review is perfect. I've always disliked this book, but never quite knew why until you pointed it out...
I agree with your review 100%, :)


message 2: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews Oh gosh....you have no idea how relieved that made me! I'm scrolling through everyone's 5 star reviews and thinking...."Dang, what did I miss??" x) So I'm a little happy I'm not alone in my dislike.


message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney When I originally read this back when I was in middle school I thought it was this totally awesome novel that really sent a deep message about suicide, but now that I'm a little older I've realized that no, it didn't. I recently took it off my shelf and gave it away. While I think the author was trying to do the whole "What would happen if a girl who committed suicide actually got to tell her story?" thing, I don't feel that Hannah had good intentions at all behind sending those tapes, and like you said - that makes her a bully too. Great review!


message 4: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews Thanks Sydney! *breaths sigh of relief* Honestly, I'm not blogging about this book because I have such a minority opinion about it...but honestly it completely worries me how this book is "okay". Especially how sensitive and quiet a person Clay was. I mean he was hyperventilating and vomiting...what was stopping that dude from killing himself out of regret too?? He had a similar sensitive personality to Hannah! The whole book makes me oh-so-sad. :(((


message 5: by Sydney (new)

Sydney I think for some the book probably delivered its intended message, and that's the reason they love it so much. For others it probably had the complete opposite effect. I feel this is a book you really enjoy or find appalling. And looking through the reviews there are a lot of people who don't like this book, or at least don't LOVE it. So you aren't completely in the minority. :P


message 6: by Kitty (last edited Oct 04, 2014 06:15AM) (new)

Kitty I never thought of it like that, but I agree with you! I couldn't finish this book. It was too boring.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you so much for summarizing my thoughts so well in this review. You, me, Sydney, Ramisa, and anyone else who hates this book will stand together, we are not alone in our Thirteen Reasons Why hating :D


message 8: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews HUZZAH! We unite in our dislike! x)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes we do! :D


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm just deleting my review and putting a link to yours in it. The cruelty of sending those tapes out struck me the minute I read the first chapter. I only kept reading to find something so heinous that happened to her to even slightly warrant the pain she inflicted on others. However, I'm don't fully agree with other reviewers in that her reasons to kill herself were dumb. She was basically part of a murder! She was right there as a girl got raped! Yes, both were her fault, as much as others, but that stuff is traumatizing. Beyond that one point, I completely and totally agree with you.


message 11: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Amnah: Oh don't delete your review though! But I'm sooo glad you understand me, though. Because I realise I have a bit of an unpopular opinion. >_<

I don't think Hannah was dumb at all. I'm sure she had depression (or other mental illness, too, perhaps bipolar even?) and she needed HELP for that. But in crying for help, she was awfully cruel. I just can't even look at this book. It's so messed up and just downright wrong. I don't even think the author sent a good message at all. :(


Andrew Holland I thought exactly the same thing until I read the very last page. I was soooo mad at Hannah for putting people through the tapes. There are two ways people could have reacted to getting and listening to those tapes.
1) they could've done exactly what you said and committed suicide or become extremely depressed. Or...
2) they could've thought about their actions more and notice how their actions (or lack thereof) affect others in such huge ways (which is why I LOVED the ending of the book.
I think Hannah wanted for people to listen to the tapes, feel like shit, and then do what is mentioned in number two. What she didn't realize was that she could've negatively affected people in HUGE ways, just like they did to her.
Honestly, if Hannah was a more real character, she wouldn't have sent out the tapes. She wouldn't have blamed people for anything, she would blame herself. A depressed person usually blames themselves for their sadness, not anyone else.
So, I agree with you, in a way.


Maddie/Art3mis Great review. I literally threw this book across the room :p


Emily // Mixed Margins The thing is, I think it's okay to not like Hannah. Yeah, you feel sorry for her, but she's not a heroine. You're seeing her side, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with her or her actions (in fact, kind of the opposite). Hannah was blaming others, but I never thought that the author's message was the same as Hannah's. I think that he's trying to day that there are a lot of variables involved in this kind of situation. Life is messy, and you never know what kind of impression you are leaving on someone.


Dakota★Magic in Every Book THIS THIS THIS. I feel like no one else gets why I hate this book? God, I love you. I DO, OKAY


message 16: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Dakota: *hi fives*


message 17: by Ingo (last edited Aug 02, 2016 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ingo Totally disagree with y'all! MC was wrong to commit suicide (as most persons are for some reasons), but to lay blame on the bullies without chance of discussion or defending? Liked it, stroke of genius.
Was just as funny for different reasons as The Fault in our stars.
My review 5 stars - another opinion.
@Cait
Like to disagree with quite a few books we both read, and just started following your reviews. Those 2 star or less reviews help me in choosing books I want to read - tend to skip 4 and 5 star-reviews, as they often do not say anything significant.


message 18: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Ingo: I'm honestly not sure if you're compliment my reviews or insulting them, but...okay. Have fun.


message 19: by Ingo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ingo The reviews are very detailed and help me finding books, although for now I am reading reviews from you to decide what from my bought.-TBR-pile I should read next.
No insult, really, and in some reviews we even rate books nearly the same (I use compare books a lot), but that also means I have read them already.
Thanks!


message 20: by Alja (new) - rated it 1 star

Alja (alyaofwinterfell) I felt the same when reading this! Clay was an ok character but I couldn't stand Hannah and how she went on to ruin other people's lives just because hers was screwed up. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who hates this book, even though I might be in the minority


message 21: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Alja: You're definitely not alone!!


Olivia It's been a looong time since I read this book, and I did love it, but how was it against the rules Hannah set up with the way Clay got the tapes?


message 23: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Oliva: Well I emphatically hated the book, so I don't want to get into any arguments over it. But Hannah says originally (and I can't give quotes because it's been 2 years since I read this) that only people who directly hurt her/made her want to commit suicide would get the tapes. But when it came to Clay's tape, she said "technically he shouldn't be here but I want him to"...or something alone that lines.


Olivia Cait (Paper Fury) wrote: "@Oliva: Well I emphatically hated the book, so I don't want to get into any arguments over it."

Oh no, I wasn't looking for an argument either! I was just genuinely curious. I thought you meant in the way he received them, like by the mail.


Alessandra Crivelli OMG! Thank you, I've thought it was just me. I rarely give a 1 STAR to a book that I finish but this was so a BIG NO for me and I kept seeing people giving 4/5 stars to it.


message 26: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Alessandra: It's a severely problematic novel and I do. not. understand. how people think it's okay?!? I'm glad we agree!


floreana I read this book a while ago, and at that moment I thought it was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't stop reading - I was so desperate to know what had Clay done, why were the other kids involved in this. I gave it five stars and all, claiming it one of my all time faves. But now, like a year later, I started thinking about it and realized how creepy and utterly fucked up everything was. You review was like the cherry on top! It sometimes amazes me how can you not notice something when reading and sometime later see how things truly were. Maybe it's because we grow up and learn and discover new perspectives. I don't know. Sorry for the rant!


message 28: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Floree: Thankyou! (And it wasn't a rant! I enjoyed getting your thoughts to. :) I honestly think this book sent a very unhealthy message and I'm still sad/disturbed about it. *sigh*


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

*grumble* I still wanna read it…


message 30: by Cloe (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cloe I read this book a couple years ago and it never really struck me about how wrong it was! Your review really made me rethink my opinion of this book. I totally agree with you now!


message 31: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I read a review that said the book reminds them of Paper Towns to an extent, so now I'm curious about the show because Paper Towns was a let down. I never read the book 13 Reasons Why. Sadly, I'm curious about the show b/c I need something that seemingly has more depth than Paper Towns.


message 32: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Vanessa: It's been 3 years since I read this book, so I apologise for the not-very-comprehensible review! (I hope my reviews have gotten better over time haha.) But I have to admit, I would warn caution about reading the book/watching the upcoming TV series. The book advocates blaming other people for mental illness. As someone who has talked a person down from a suicide attempt (which was one of the scariest moments of my life), all I can think of is how horrifying it would be for me to take the blame if they still went and killed themselves afterwards. This book is saying that if you can't save a person from their own illness, you killed them. Very very problematic and wrong. That's my interpretation anyway.


message 33: by bean (new) - rated it 5 stars

bean :) so apparently I love this book, and I say apparently because I too read it around 3 years ago, which for me was, like, 7th grade. And now seeing your review combined with the the dissension over the Netflix thing coming out is further encouragement for me to reread, because people seem to either love it or hate it and also my 13 year-old self's opinion is never to be trusted (7th grade 'twas a dark, dark time). I guess my point here is thanks for the accidental reminder to me to reread!


message 34: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I understood for the most part! I'm a huge advocate of mental illness and I despise emotional manipulation, so based on this review I won't be reading this book and I appreciate your perspective so much. YA has a tendency to glorify mental illness. Eck! But I'm a sucker for a mystery. that's why I'm slightly interested in the show. But for the sake of integrity, I'll probably just pass.


message 35: by Susanne (new)

Susanne  Strong Very powerful review Cait. Doesn't sound like a book I would ever want to read.


Swany CJ I think the polarizing effect this book has is the reflection of its power. You either hate it or love it... That is what makes it so great. It is petty, spiteful and overly dramatic. Then again, it's for teenagers. The author is brilliantly playing to his audience.


message 37: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Swany: That is the most condescending and belittling comment towards teenagers that I've ever heard.


message 38: by Ness (new)

Ness Kingsley @Swany that's a wee bit harsh now, isn't it?


message 39: by Daisy (new)

Daisy Paquet Oh man.

I know what I'm not reading.


Bolaka Chattopadhyay Terrible book. Hanna is a whiny irritating kid who needs to find out their are kids with very serious problems out there. And she let Bruce rape her.WTF???


message 41: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Here's my take on it. All of us have gone through what Hannah has gone through, to one extreme or another. We've all been harassed, bullied, excluded, had our hearts lifted and broken by people we trusted. That's part of life. Here's the part that I don't get. High School is 4 years of your life. That's it. No more, no less. If you're being bullied and every day is a struggle, it's over in 4 years. If you're the high school quarterback and everyone loves you- it's still over in four years. Fifteen or twenty years after it's over, most people will forget about Hannah Baker. When you get together with old friends to talk about school, she will just be remembered as "the girl who killed herself". High school, and all that goes with it, ends. Life moves on- and gets so much better.


April I read this book a long time ago and I felt exactly the same way. I knew my opinion was a minority as well, but especially having personal experience with depression, I had major issues with this book.


message 43: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I was so tempted to watch the show because all my friends at work are like OMG ITS THE BEST. ITS SO REAL. But I've dealt with high school depression and I just can't really condone this. I feel like it's interesting as a concept: make 13 videos and backtrack what happened. That's the part that makes me curious. I keep getting notifications from this post and they all remind me to steer clear.


message 44: by Carolina (last edited Apr 11, 2017 08:58AM) (new)

Carolina "And I feel like the message was (so wrong ) that everyone is to blame for one person’s suicide." - Well I think that the message was that even the tiny things you say to someone can have a great impact on their lives even if you don't think they will. The point is not the tapes and judging Hannah for the tapes, it is to understand what they want to convey. Which is what I wrote above.


message 45: by Jackie (new)

Jackie I picked this book up because all of my friends are going bananas over the Netflix original series, and I'm so happy I'm not the only person who thinks this book is ridiculous! I'm not even a third of the way through it yet and I can already tell I'm going to feel similarly to you.


message 46: by Ky (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ky @Bolaka could you explain how a person allows someone to rape them? Doesn't that go against the very definition of rape


message 47: by Kayla (new)

Kayla I only read the first PAGE of comments for this review and it really makes me realize how unrealistic people are. I DID think that the way she went about telling her story was not likely to happen in real life but to lash out at people who she believes is responsible (seemingly rightly so) for her suicide is a REALISTIC and HUMAN thing to do. Cruel or not. That's people. I also think that those of you who disliked her as a character (I'm not going to assume what any of you have been through, I don't know any of you personally so this is just a general observation) don't understand maybe what it's like to be in a situation where you feel so isolated, with no one to hold on to. The MC just wanted to have her voice heard. Her shout into the endless void, to roughly quote Pierce Brown.


message 48: by Tereza (new)

Tereza 46938598
@Kayla ♡Graceling♡A Red Forever♡ Galathynius
I haven't read the book and I've only seen first two episodes of the Netflix series. Hannah is a whiny bitch. I was psychologically bullied in high school. Being an outcast in the class, being the only girl in the class. And guess what? I was asking what was wrong with me and why they didn't liked me. And in the end I pulled through and it made me stronger. Sure I wasn't depressed, so I had it easier, but killing myself because people don't like me? That's really idiotic thing to do. Killing yourself because your friend won't talk to you? Well, find new friends. Hannah is just a very unsympathetic character. Didn't want to rant like this, but there is plenty of better movies/series (probably books as well) that depict bullying so much better and can really teach you something.


message 49: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Yeah finish the series because you really don't know what you're talking about or what really happened in tapes 12 and 13 that actually caused her to kill herself. I would be a whiny bitch too if what happened to her happened to me and I would rather die than go through what she had to


message 50: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Kayla - it's kind of rude to invalidate someone's opinion just because a.) they felt uncomfortable wasting several more hours on a show they felt wasn't for them and b.) read the reviews of. At that point, she probably still won't like the show. She already has her real life experience to look at. I would hope that you would not "rather die" in her situation.

It seems the conflicting arguments can be summed up to:

1. It's just fiction. But Hannah was justified.
OR
2. This was my personal experience/real life experience and it should have been portrayed more sensitively.

People will have different takes on it the show. Let's all agree to disagree :) I just hope the show isn't triggering to people. I care about people in real life struggling, not a fictional character.


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