Review: Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

ImageHannah Baker is a lonely teenage girl when she moves to a new school, hoping to make friends and find herself among her peers. However, she is consistently let down by people she considers her friends, and even by her teachers, who she reaches out to in her darkest moments. Eventually, she turns to suicide as her only way out, leaving behind cassette tapes as a sort of note. Each side of every tape explains how a different person contributed to Hannah’s misery and ultimately, her death. When the tapes show up on Clay Jensens’ doorstep he is blind sided, and the reader listens to Hannah’s complicated web of a story along with him.

I was not a fan of this book. It seemed to glorify Hannah’s suicide, while being extremely heavy handed in it’s moral message. The tapes play like a type of revenge rather than a suicide note, and I couldn’t connect with Hannah or Clay or any of the characters because they were very one dimensional. Clay’s reactions to the tapes seemed forced and melodramatic; they didn’t evoke any emotions at all. If someone received a tape like this, I would expect their reactions to be heartfelt and stunned, rather than bland and cliche. No one seemed “real” to me, and I didn’t believe in the story as I went, and I think that was largely the problem I had with this book.

I waited it out, thinking maybe there would be some kind of twist or something along the way somehow, but there really wasn’t. Just the unending message of “treat others the way you want to be treated.” I think this book tried to do something really big and important and it just fell short for me. I know a lot of people liked it, so I might be in the minority on this one, but I found myself skimming and looking forward to the end so I could read something else. Again, I would recommend this one to younger readers, maybe 8th grade or high school freshmen could benefit form the lessons taught throughout the novel.

Have you read this book? What did YOU think?

8 comments

  1. I have never read this book, but I’ve heard so many things about it. People keep telling me that I should read it, but for some reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to do so over the years. I guess I’m afraid that it’ll be too sad.

    1. I stayed away for the same reason! It was surprisingly not sad though? At least for me. It was too preachy to be sad in my opinion, and the characters too hard to relate to!

  2. Wow, so I’ve actually never seen that suicide-glorifying aspect until now. I remember reading the book about 2 years back and actually, I know that I found the story to be really awesome. However, your review makes me think the book over. Maybe I was was just swayed by the book hype then, but then on the other hand, I was still in middle school when I read it. I still have fond memories of the book but I do believe – just like you – that it is more suitable for younger readers. Great review. And I mean it. Your review is awesome!

  3. Although I know some people adore this book, I’ve read a number of reviews from people who felt the way you did and I think I’d share your disconnect with Hannah. It does seem like a revenge thing, which makes her whole suicide strike me as cowardly and selfish. I think I’d find her hard to relate to.

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