Thirteen Reasons WhyHot
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
A Gripping, Twisting Tale of Introspection
This was a unique, twisting, and complex story—one of the more difficult I’ve tried to review. Now that I’ve let its full (and somewhat disorienting) effect simmer a while, I’m giving it a go.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Yes, this is an ‘issues’ book. It confronts with a number of relevant and dark topics that young adults particularly struggle with or are at least affected by. Teen suicide, mental illness, reputation-worship, gossip/slander, nearsighted impulsivity, sexual abuse, malignant narcissism, interconnected cause-and-effect, the many hazardous consequences attached to drunken partying… It neither glamorizes nor preaches—it simply tells its tale and leaves you to draw your own conclusions.
The story centers around the primary POV (point of view) in the character of Clay, a young man who receives a package from a girl he barely knew but wanted to know more—Hannah Baker…a girl who committed suicide several weeks before. In the package are a number of archaic tape cassettes holding Hannah’s voice, personally explaining why she chose the path she did, and instructions for the tapes to be passed on to the next name she’s indicated (under threat of a second copy of said tapes going public if her targets do not comply with her demands.)
That’s right. To a large extent, this story is about postmortem blackmail.
Beyond that, the book is also built on an empathic sort of intrigue. Clay is a well-meaning, well-liked, genuinely ‘nice guy’—and readers get to agonize along with him as he hears about each person Hannah calls out for offenses against her, all the while wondering when it will be his turn and what he did to deserve a spot on the girl’s vindictive list-o-shame.
I’m not sure if I should call Hannah a ‘victim’ of suicide, or a perpetrator.
She’s not an easy character to sympathize with or relate to. (And this is coming from someone who, at one time, struggled both with depression and thoughts of suicide.) She certainly had lots of time to think about her choice—to calculate, judge, plot, manipulate, and cast blame. She speculates at length on how her choice may affect people, but her parents get almost no mention at all--aside from the vague reference to the impending ruin of their small business being a factor that made her relationship with them situationally distant. Hannah doesn't seem to care or hold any empathy for the struggles of her parents. Or, indeed, for anyone else around her.
Do certain people do legitimately bad, even horrible things to Hannah? Absolutely. Are her responses to these incidences healthy or rational? As the story unfolds, the answer to that is, increasingly and adamantly, no. We as readers are left with a sort of unanswerable ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ question at the end of the tapes. Did Hannah’s myopic and self-destructive nature come from her spiral into suicidal ideation, or was it the other way around? We’ll never know, because Hannah chooses to end her own story.
As bleak and warped as this book is, it's not devoid of hope. (I’d contend that there is value in abundance, if you know where to look.) It stuns, it evokes, it haunts… it forces you to remember it. The story serves as a possible plea for action to those who might otherwise remain bystanders, and a warning to those inclined to treat others—and life in general—carelessly. Most importantly, it does a subtle job of threading through tools of social awareness for those willing to perceive what’s being offered.
Note: This reader happened to ingest the prose via audiobook, which is not my preferred method. But in this singular instance, I HIGHLY recommend the story be experienced in said format. So much of the plot is conveyed to Clay via Hannah’s disembodied voice, creating an immersive, eerie, and pitch-perfect effect. I found myself idling in many a parking space or driveway, caught up in listening.
Not Quite Thirteen Reasons Why Guys Should Pick Up This Book
Talk about taking my sweet time getting around to reading Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I have been wanting to read this book for ages, and I finally had the opportunity this weekend. It is completely not what I was expecting, and once again, that was because I was a fool face and judged a book by its cover. Due to the girl swinging on the cover, I thought this would be geared more toward female readers, but boy was I wrong! This book knows no gender, and I think it’s equally as important for boys to read as girls. As the Boy Books editor at YABC, here are not-quite-thirteen reasons why guys should pick up this book:
As I said with my mistakenly judging the book by its cover, I didn’t expect the story to have a male protagonist, but it sure does. Clay Jensen is such a relatable Every Guy that I couldn’t help picturing myself in his role as the action played out in my head. Clay isn’t the picture perfect presentation of a boy that is often found in YA, with no mention of his “deep, soul-searching eyes” or his “perfectly toned body.” Instead, Clay is described through his reactions and interactions with Hannah, said cover girl of the book, who has committed suicide and has now left cassette tapes behind to be heard by each of the people she feels are responsible for her death.
The premise of the book leads me to my next reason why guys should pick up this book. The premise and feel of the story’s action are just so dang haunting. I found myself looking over my shoulder a couple times while reading this book, feeling like maybe the ghost of this girl has come to haunt me after her death, too. You get goose bumps from some of the things Hannah has to say to those she perceives as responsible for her suicide. That creepy crawly disturbing feeling you get from hearing about this calculated communication from beyond the grave is not often found in YA, and it’s something I think teenage boys would totally get a kick out of.
Finally, there are so many themes in this book that can resonate with male readers. There’s the theme of coming into manhood, which Clay now has to do with an emotional roadblock since he feels somewhat responsible for Hannah’s death. There’s the theme of gender relations and if it’s a man’s responsibility to be a protector of a woman he likes even if she is self-destructive. Tied into this are graphic yet important lessons on respecting a woman’s body and not treating any woman as a means to an end.
My mind is still reeling from this book, and I’m so glad I was finally able to delve into it. I can’t say enough how avidly I recommend this book. With all of the New York Times Best Seller love Asher is getting, it doesn’t seem like people need too much encouragement to pick up this book, but I just want to spread the word out there to all my fellow male YA readers to not make the same mistake I did and think this is a “girl’s book” simply because of the girl on the cover. Guys and gals alike will be affected by Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why.”
A book that knows no gender and is great for both boys and girls.
Interesting lessons and insights about teen suicide and gender relations.
You Can Never Change The Past
Hannah Baker narrates her story of the many people and events that push her over the edge to suicide in Thirteen Reasons Why. Her story, in the form of cassette tapes, pass from each person who played a part in her suicide to the next. Hannah only has two rules about her tapes:
Number one: You listen.
Number two: You pass it on.
When Clay Jenson, Hannahs classmate and crush receive the tapes, he listens to Hannahs entire story in one night. It is a night that changes his life forever. From her first kiss, to her last days on earth, Hannah describes life through her eyes for her listeners. All of her listeners played a role in her death. They are the thirteen reasons why she decides to commit suicide.
She wants them to hear her story, to understand why this happened. By creating these tapes, Hannah forces her listeners to come to terms with what they have done, and the ramifications of their actions.
Thirteen Reasons Why is the most realistic book on suicide that I have ever read. In many cases, when someone commits suicide, people who care about that person are left wondering what happened. What drives a person to decide to end their life? Jay Asher attempts to answer this question in his debut novel. Unlike most suicide victims, Hannah leaves her story behind, sharing her deepest, darkest secrets in explaining why her life was not worth living anymore.
More than anything, Thirteen Reasons Why has helped me realize how much of an impact I have on the lives of others. Some of the people in Hannahs tapes could not have realized how their seemingly small actions had such a powerful impact on Hannahs life, and without the tapes, they never would have known. In Clays case, it was what he didnt do, rather than what he did, that had the biggest influence on Hannah. Every day, I unknowingly touch the lives of other people through our interactions, and it is up to me to make sure that I have a positive impact on their lives. The most important lesson that Clay learns is that no action is too small, and that he can truly make a difference to somebody else if he only gives himself a chance.
Quirk Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
It took me a really long time to actually pick up this book and read it. Having dealt personally with suicide and similar issues, I just don't gravitate toward reading books that deal with them. But I did. I can't say I'm glad I did, but I can say that it was a good book. I was intrigued by the idea of a message from the grave and I kept turning the pages to see what was coming next and who would be on the tapes and why. There were little bits of mystery thrown in as names were dropped and you couldn't be sure if or where they would wind up on the tapes.
I really enjoyed the two alternating voices. I'm finding more and more that multiple POVs or narrators is something I like in novels. The writing itself was clean and expressive and I always knew who was narrating based on the tone and language.
When it comes to characters, I really liked Clay. He was a great guy, and probably my favorite part of the entire story is his reaction to the emotional journey he is on. I felt like I was experiencing the shock and sadness with him instead of just watching from the outside, and it all felt very realistic to me. His emotions and thoughts, especially about himself, just felt so raw and honest, and I could see, step by step, how the tapes were changing him, not drastically, but just elevating him to another level of understanding when it comes to other people. I also like how ultimately he did not let Hannah's decision overshadow his own life.
As for Hannah herself, I honestly could not relate very much. I did feel bad for her for the things that had happened to push her in the direction of suicide. But leaving behind the tapes seemed as selfish as the suicide, like she was rubbing it in their faces. I know part of it was to teach those who were on the tapes a lesson about how what you do to, say about, or think about another person has consequences we often can't see, but she could have done that and lived. I know someone who has personally found the body of someone who committed suicide, and though my friend probably wasn't part of why that person made that choice, my friend still obsesses over what they could have done to stop it. It still sends my friend into depression to think about it, so I can't imagine what the characters on those tapes must have had to deal with after listening to them. Maybe some of them would have blown it off, but others who seemed to be more sympathetic characters probably would have had to seek therapy at the very least.
It seemed to me like Hannah was just bored and gave up, or even in some cases, looking for reasons to kill herself. Maybe that was the point - she made the wrong decision and everyone who comes to that decision should realize there are other options - but hers was such an un-compelling story for the most part (there were bits of it that were awful, true, but usually they were the decisions Hannah made and things she could have changed/prevented). I don't mean to trivialize her issues, but as a person who lives with depression every day, I wish my depression was just blah and boredom. It would be better than the crippling agony. I never felt that Hannah was really agonized, and maybe that's just my memory because it has been a while since I read the book. But as far as the story goes, that almost makes it worse that she wasn't half-crazed and in so much emotional pain that she felt she had to end it in a spur of the moment decision. It is honestly sadder because there really was no reason for it and because she took so much time to plan it out. Everything she was going through could have just been things from her past that she got over in therapy or mistakes she could have made up for had she allowed herself a future. Again, not saying those that did those things to her had a right, because they didn't, but everyone in the story made bad choices, including Hannah, before Hannah's suicide. But instead of choosing to right her wrongs and change the way things were, she gave up. Again, probably the point.
Jay Asher really impressed me with this work. I felt like I was reading about real people instead of characters in a book (except for Hannah, who I just couldn't connect with completely) and I liked the message. People really should be more considerate of others because you never know what some one is going through and how you could affect them. Also, raising any awareness of mental health issues is something I applaud because it is not talked about enough. I liked the hopeful ending of the book as well, and it helped to sweeten the bitterness of Hannah's decision and her thirteen reasons why.
I love this book!
i read this book last year, and i did presentations on it. i find that even though the topic is really sad but it is an amazing story and it is very heart felt. truly amazing.
An emotional and touching story
This is a book that tackles some pretty serious issues, and they are not issues most people even acknowledge until they are forced to. And for that I find this book to be very touching and eye opening. I can’t give it a higher star count because I still have some issues with it, but they are issues that make sense when you take the time to think on it. I don’t normally read contemporary fiction and the reasoning is kind of ironic. I don’t like reading about real life, it tends to be far too depressing. So why did I choose this? I can’t really say, I saw it and put it down to begin with. But after walking around the whole store I walked back and picked it up, I just had to. The concept was interesting, and it was something that seemed like it needed to be read. And read I did, I finished it at 4am the day after I bought it.
I think the writing and the style was very effective in telling this story. By having the different point of views, Hannah and Clay’s, it really gives you a kind of perspective and the characters’ voices. Hannah is telling her story and gives her reasons, and even though it seems like she’s giving most of the story…I think it’s important to realize that’s she’s not and that she’s not meant to be a perfect person. There is a lot she doesn’t say and thus we only get what she tells. Clay’s voice was kind of like mine at times, and so I connected him with the reader’s perceptive. He said things that I was thinking like the fact that I didn’t find some of excuses to be good reasons to end her life. I think that’s where it looses stars. Don’t get me wrong I understand that everyone is different, their tolerance and threshold is different and some times things can get heavy. There times during the book though that just really got on my bad side, like the whole concept of these tapes being made. It bothered me that she would go through it all just so she could tell why she committed suicide (and if you read it you’ll see why, but I’ll avoid saying why due to spoilers). It also bothered me about some of the reasons she included, some did in fact seem like she was searching for reasons or that she didn’t do more to avoid it. The way it was written does grip you though and nearly refuses to let you go. I had to read her whole story, regardless of weather or not I felt she wasn’t completely justified in all of her choices. Let me say it does NOT condone suicide, never once does it make it seem like an acceptable route.
Just because I gave this 3 stars doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of 5, and in a sense it really is but somethings bothered me and it effected my response to it. The message in this book is one that needs to be discussed, especially with high school kids who tend to take a kind of freedom with their choices. I do recommend this book but if you don’t like books with heavy topics then you should probably steer clear.
- Very emotional
Eye-opening and beautiful.
Reading Thirteen Reasons Why really makes you notice the signs in people like friends that may be facing suicidal thoughts. It puts you inside the thought process and the heart of Hannah. It also shows you how everything you do, no matter how small can dramatically effect someones life. Really made me think...this ones worth reading guys.
A must read story
Oh. My. Goodness. This was such a great book! Why didn’t I read it before now? Shame on me.
As you’ve probably guessed, Hannah killed herself. What you (and the other characters) don’t know is why she did it. Until the tapes arrive. The stories that she shared are heartbreaking. Hannah refers to things as “the snowball effect” and that’s exactly what happened. There is no one specific event that caused her to want to take her own life. There were a compilation of many, many things that eventually weighed down on her.
The way this story was told was very original. I loved that Clay’s thoughts intermingled with Hannah’s stories. I really felt sorry for both characters. For Hannah, it was sad that she had to endure so much alone. For Clay, it was sad that he never found the courage to speak up, which might have been enough to save Hannah. As you read the book, you can’t help but think about your own life (especially your time in high school). What if that Senior Superlative spoof list you helped pass around in math class wasn’t a joke to everyone? What if that prank you thought was so innocent destroyed someone’s final chance of happiness? What if all those times you thought you should speak up but never found the courage to do so didn’t work out in the end?
I had so many connections to this book while I read. It was almost like reliving my high school experience with every page. It’s hard to believe this was written by a debut author, because the skill and talent are amazing. I really hope to read more from Jay Asher in the future.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a beautiful way of making readers think about their actions. Everything has a consequence, whether it’s positive or negative, and you realize this through Hannah’s story.
Tapes Worth Listening To
Jay asher’s first novel is a for sure read for anyone who loves reading about realistic teens doing horrible things to themselves and to others. And finding a way for it to never happen to someone they know.
intense book not meant for very young kids, but a great story
Alternating Dual 1st Person POV. Masterfully Written Pageturner!
I highly recommend this book. There's a reason it landed on the NYT bestseller list and hung around for a LONG time!
This story pulled me in right from the start, shortly after pushing play on the 7 cassettes (each side adds up to 13, since the last one only has one side). As you follow Clay through an unforgettable night of wandering the town to each spot where the story originally took place, you unravel the mystery of WHY.
I read this my senior year of high school, and I can still remember sitting on the swing outside my house and crying. This book has stuck with me, 4 years later. I love that Hannah made these tapes. Suicide is confusing, but maybe having the tapes makes it more understanding. Although, personally, I feel that it is a selfish act..but that's just me.
It's a beautiful book, really.