Title: Th1rteen R3asons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Original Publication Date: October 18, 2007
You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret. . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. 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.
Review: I totally stayed awake turning the pages until I finished this book at 3am because I HAD to know what was going to happen. The suspense was unreal because I didn’t know what was going to happen next, or who the next tape was going to be about. If I could find two words to describe this book they would be: Emotional Thriller. This is partly because I was torn between the different emotions I wanted to feel while reading. Was I happy? Scared? Frustrated? Annoyed? Sympathetic? All of the above and more apply here because there is no concrete way to describe one’s feelings while reading Thirteen Reasons Why. Now, I say thriller because the suspense level is similar to what you would find in the standard “thriller” genre. Hannah is also a recently deceased girl narrating her life postmortem to those who “wronged” her in some way.
Now, I’m going to state the unpopular opinion here: I disliked Hannah’s character. Why? Well, I could probably give you 13 reasons why, but I’ll keep it brief. For one, the tapes are a form of shaming, which makes Hannah a sort of villain, because she inherently destroys lives for no other reason than to retaliate against the people solely responsible for her emotional instability. Secondly, she didn’t take the time to appreciate what she had, and instead mourned what she had lost. Hannah was stuck in the past, and simply couldn’t let some things go. Now, I’m not trying to be offensive here, I’m simply pointing out the facts. Clay Jensen was basically in love with her, and she was too blinded by all those who had wronged her to see it. Thirdly, I think she gave up fighting too soon. By the end, she was basically letting the bad things happen to her, and she didn’t have to. I wish I could get inside Hannah’s head and know exactly what she was thinking in those final moments that sent her spiraling.
This book was a powerful message about suicide (albeit a very superficial one) and produced a lot of controversy and controversial opinions. I have to say that I simultaneously love/hate Thirteen Reasons Why because it made me ask “what if?” and I found myself thinking about how things could have turned out differently “if” this happened or “if” that happened. Jay Asher’s book shook me to my core, and I’m still haunted by it.