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.