Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 21902
Quirk Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
(Updated: January 10, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
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.

*9/10*
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