REVIEW: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

thirteen reasons why books keep me saneTitle: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Genre: YA Contemporary

Release Date: October 18th 2007

Purchase: Amazon (Paperback or Kindle)

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

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.

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I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time and I really expected it to be a great read since I heard a lot of good things about it. Sadly, the book didn’t meet my expectations.

I’ve heard of this book even before I started blogging but for some reason I haven’t read the book until a few days ago. I heard a lot of great things about it but I also heard negative ones. Still, I focused on the positive feedback.

The blurb is so interesting, I must admit. Before Hannah Baker killed herself, she recorded a bunch of audiotapes which stated the reasons why she ended her life. Suicide is such a dark and depressing topic but I find myself drawn to books about the topic. So naturally, my curiosity was piqued by the book.

Even though it wasn’t what I expected it would be, I learned a valuable lesson in the book—even a small thing you will do can affect a person’s entire life. Still, I don’t think this justifies killing your own life. In the story we get to know Clay and Hannah through these audiotapes. For some reason Clay was included in the list of reasons why Hannah took her own life and he was struggling to understand why he was in that list and why Hannah killed herself. He met a different Hannah through those tapes.

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

The plot was compelling and it had the potential to be a great story but the book just fell flat for me. While I really sympathized with Hannah and all the things she has gone through I don’t think it justified her killing herself. I know life can be tough and hey, I’ve been in that point before—teetering between life and death, contemplating if killing yourself will be worth it. (I am not suicidal but I think we’ve had those moments when we just wish to escape all the chaos that is life and just completely vanish from the face of the earth.) I felt bad that her life was so shitty but I also felt angry because she didn’t soldier on life, you know? Before reading the book I wondered what could have made Hannah take her own life, what those thirteen reasons are. I expected something worse. I wondered if the book can convince me that what the main protagonist did to herself was the right thing to do. And it didn’t. I expected so much from the book and only got disappointment.

Even though I felt angry towards Hannah I also felt sad after Clay finished listening to the tapes. When Clay finished the tapes it was only then that I realized Hannah was really dead and she won’t come back anymore. I felt strange for being angry towards her but at the same time sad for her demise, because even though she was just a fictional character, in the tapes that she recorded, I got to know her and desperately wish she was still alive to enjoy all the things life had to offer.

“It’s hard to be disappointed when what you expected turns out to be true.”

After finishing the book did I only realize that maybe Thirteen Reasons Why wasn’t so bad a book after all, okay maybe I hated Hannah for killing herself but I also think that it’s only natural to be angry and confused when someone you care for takes her own life. You struggle to understand that person, but in the end you can never really place yourself in their shoes and understand their decision. But you don’t always have to understand, sometimes you only have to accept it.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  1. This book has been on my radar for a while too and I have no idea why I haven’t picked it up yet! As morbid as books are about this kind of thing, I find myself always reading them. I just finished Saving June, in which June committed suicide. I thought it was a good book but maybe I’ll need to wait a little while to return to this heavy material again.

    • I guess so. When I was reading it I got disappointed because I don’t think Hannah’s reasons are “valid” but I realized different people have different breaking point and maybe that was the end of the line for her. I can’t accept the fact that you will kill yourself because your life sucks but I’m trying to accept her decision, for her sake and for the sake of all the people who have chosen to go down this path.

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