Cover of "Thirteen Reasons Why"

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published October 18, 2007
Razorbill Books
ISBN: 1595141880

I thought this book had a very interesting premise: a girl commits suicide and leaves cassette tapes behind. Then I remembered that I don’t really like books where I know a character will die during the course of the story. Time went by and I read a different book co-authored by Asher, The Future of Us, which I didn’t really care for. At all. That gave me more excuse not to read it. My mind was made up when I got the syllabus for the Genre Studies class. I was reading it after all.

Hannah Baker has committed suicide and left behind a series of tapes with a few instructions: Listen to the tapes, and pass them on to the next person. Every person on her list contributed in some way to her suicide. Clay Jensen has received the tapes and as he listens, he is unsure how he played a part in her undoing. He had a crush on her for some time and believed he had connected with her, but it was already too late.

I wanted, very much, to feel sorry for Hannah Baker. She just wasn’t an empathetic character to me. I felt she was as calculating as her tormenters and quite vindictive, especially with the tapes. I felt much more for Clay. He tried, albeit reluctantly, to get through to her. I believe she included him in the tapes, not because of what he did to her, but what he didn’t do. He didn’t try hard enough in her opinion, and that inaction was just as detrimental as everything else. But enough about character analysis.

I really like how this book read. I remember making – with narration – mixed tapes for my friends and crushes in junior high and high school. Having the cassette sides correlate with chapters was brilliant and I really liked Clay’s interaction with Hannah’s narration. This really is one of those cases where the medium is the message, really. It’s a contemporary book, so the tape listeners really had to look to find a cassette tape player to participate. It’s really the effort that Hannah needed all along, just too late.

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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