Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Written By: Jay Asher
Published By: Razorbill
Published On: 2007
Pages: 289

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic.

This book had been top of my list for a while now. I'm not quite sure why, it just seemed like suddenly I was hearing about it everywhere I went.
I was lucky enough to have a friend lend it to me on my return to New Zealand and I finally got a chance to read it. In the limited reading time I have, I managed to get through the book pretty quickly.

It's kind of morbid but this kind of subject in a book really captivates me - that is, the subject of suicide.

Clay Jenson is the "nice guy" of his school, who had a long time crush on Hannah Baker, the girl with the reputation. He always assumed he was out of her league, but he didn't realise how much he didn't know about her until her suicide tapes arrive on his doorstep one afternoon after school. The tapes blame thirteen people for her suicide - and each person she blames will at some point be recieving the tapes.

Clay can't figure out what he did to Hannah to make him be on these tapes. Especially since all he wanted was to be with this girl. So the book is set over one night as he wanders his neighbourhood, going to places of importance to Hannah and listening to her story.

The book has a split narration style, but it's actually done in such a way that you barely notice it's a split narrative. Interspersed with Hannah's words, and her story are Clay's thoughts about Hannah's narration and interactions with others around his neighbourhood.

I found the book very easy to read, it captured me immediately and I wanted to keep reading until I found out what Clay had done to earn a place on those tapes. After I found out, I still didn't want to put the book down as I wanted to know how the tapes had affected everyone else who's names were on Hannah's list. Hannah's "Baker's dozen".

I did, sometimes, find Clay's reaction a little hard to believe, and a little unrealisitic. I get that finding and listening to those tapes would have been really difficult and heartbreaking, but I also think at times Clay's reaction was a little over the top and his comments in reaction to things Hannah was saying often became a little repetitive.

When the book ended, I wasn't ready. I wanted to keep reading, and find out what happened to other characters on Hannah's list after they heard the tapes. I, honestly, could have stayed in Clay's world for longer and I didn't want the book to be over!

While at times the writing of the book left a bit to be desired, I really loved this book. It was captivating, heartbreaking and interesting. I found it hard to put the book down, and it would be easy to read this book in a single day.

I would definitely recommend this book to others althoguh despite the difficult subject matter I would say it's possibly for the younger end of the Young Adult genre (although I wouldn't go younger than 15....)

I would give Thirteen Reasons Why 4 stars.


  1. Contemporary YA is not my genre of choice, but the premise of this novel intrigued me. Then I read THE FUTURE OF US, and was disappointed. Ever since, I've been a little reluctant to pick up THIRTEEN REASONS WHY in case Jay Asher disappoints me again. Your review encourages me to give it a chance.

    Thanks, Samantha! :)

    1. Aw really?! I picked up The Future of Us the other day, haven't read it yet though. To be honest, this is not the greatest book I've read. I feel like it was lacking quite a bit and Hannah's character was a bit one dimensional, but I found the subject very intriguing and that's what I liked about it. If you do read it, let me know your thoughts!

  2. I read this one awhile back, and though I felt like I wanted a little bit more from it, overall it was a good and important read. The message--that our actions big and small can have a lasting effect on someone--is something we can all take to heart.

    Great review, Samantha! :)

    1. I agree. I feel like parts were a little one dimensional and there could have been a little more. Even perhaps more at the end about the impact on the others. But you're right, it's an important read with an important message. I'd never thought about the flow on effects of someones actions before :)

  3. It's rare to come across a dark YA book, which I suppose is why Thirteen Reasons Why attracted me in the first place. The premise is very intriguing to me, because whenever I read about someone committing suicide in the news, I always wonder why they would do such a horrible act. What happened for them to even consider this, let alone do it? But of course, we can't ask them. Although I, also, felt some areas were lacking, it was definitely a thought-provoking read and it got its message across.
    I loved your review and definitely agree with it! X

    1. Yes! That must be why we're so fascinated with the subjet - to try and understand it! Thanks for stopping by :)