Review: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

13 reasons why

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: October 18, 2007
Opening Sentence: “‘Sir?’ she repeats.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead, he reasons. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…
…and what he discovers changes his life forever.

I’ve been hearing and continue to hear wonderful things about Thirteen Reasons Why. One of the reasons it took me so long to finally read it is because I was concerned with the hype being greater than the book. I don’t think the book lived up to the image I conjured for it (based on what people were telling me), but I enjoyed reading it none-the-less.

One of my favorite things about the whole book was how much of it was Hannah talking on the tapes. I figured there would be more Clay and less Hannah and that sort of turned me off (because it’s her story, after all), so I was stoked to find out it’s actually the other way around. That’s not to mention how awesome of an idea this book was in general. Hannah’s tapes are so descriptive and unforgiving… and long that I sometimes forgot listening to them all took place inside just one day for Clay. So much in his life changed in less than twenty-four hours.

Speaking of Clay, am I the only one that was sort of bothered by him? I liked him and then I didn’t like him… and then I did… so on and so forth. Clay is so passive it’s annoying. It’s irritating to see from his point of view sometimes, but that’s what makes him a good character. He wouldn’t be just fine, understanding, and a little sad… the bitterness and anger are what make humans human. While it grinded my gears I really need to applaud Jay Asher on not selling out to one type of stereotypical reaction when it came to Clay listening to the tapes. He did come off as somewhat too much of a “nice guy”, though.

The biggest thing I liked about this book was Hannah’s voice. From the first words she said—Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. —I felt like her voice was just… there. She’s sarcastic and angry… and hurt though she covers it well with her usually calm demeanor. I loved that she was willing to admit that she did things wrong too and that she isn’t just a victim. If her tapes had been filled with “woe is me!” statements I don’t think I would have finished this book.

Apparently there’s a collection of YouTube videos with Hannah’s tapes on the Thirteen Reasons Why website. I haven’t checked them out yet, but I’m seriously hoping they’re similar to how I picture Hannah’s voice. (Edit: They aren’t and I won’t continue listening to them.)

For the most part this was an interesting book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The events are sad, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in the book at all and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons it’s only getting a three star rating from me.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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