October 3, 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

You can't stop the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
...is to press play
-from Thirteen Reasons Why by ay Asher

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In Thirteen Reasons Why, Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find an unmarked package containing cassette tapes. The cassettes are from Hannah Baker, a girl from school who recently killed herself, a girl who Clay had a crush on. On each side of the cassette tapes are thirteen individuals who gave Hannah reasons to kill herself and each recipient must listen through the tapes to find out how they play into the story. In this interesting dual narrative between Clay and Hannah via the tapes, new perspectives are revealed about Hannah Baker and the things that break a person.

First off, I want to say that I really enjoy how Jay Asher always a refreshing way to tell his stories. From The Future of Us which had an interesting spin of the future in it, to Hannah Baker's narrative through her tapes in Thirteen Reasons Why, I really like the creative direction Asher takes in his work. While you might remember I didn't love the execution of The Future of Us, I found Thirteen Reasons Why much more satisfying.

I listened to this via audio book, which I highly recommend because you get to hear Clay's voice and Hannah's voice and it makes the whole experience more realistic (even if Hannah's voice creeps me out and sounds way older than a teenager). This book is such an interesting study of the human experience, especially magnified by the emotions of teenagers. First off, it's very clear right off the bat that Clay is a responsible and trustworthy narrator. He is a good guy, he liked Hannah, he has a strong moral compass and sense for justice. As a reader I felt like Clay couldn't have anything to do with Hannah's death and that he would stand up to bullies in general. That said, Hannah shares experiences that Clay had no idea about and Clay also shares (through the narrative) his remorse for not helping Hannah more when she was alive. The layers of their narratives made me consider how each person has such unique experiences and nobody ever completely understands what is going on with another person without proper communication. Oftentimes this doesn't matter too much, but in the case of Hannah Baker, it meant her life. Had she understood how much Clay liked her and/or had Clay not been so shy and expressed his feelings to her, maybe she would have found a reason to live. Communication is a big theme in romantic books (and life in general), but Asher weaves together its importance so poignantly through this story.

As I mentioned, I couldn't understand why Clay would receive the tapes because he is such a good guy, so I was on the edge of my seat waiting for his tape to come into play. I won't spoil it for you, but I was disappointed by that part, but that's mainly my only major complaint with this book. The ending did seem to wrap up a little abruptly for me, but it's not like I was able to expect Hannah Baker to come strolling in for a happy ending. This book is tough. It's made tougher by the fact that bullying and teasing is rampant amongst teenagers and many of them don't understand the consequences. I think this is an important book to read and it has an interesting spin on the subject through the cassette tape narratives to really hold your interest.

Bottom Line: A creative way to tell a story about bullying and a strong explication on human nature and communication in general. I recommend to anyone who sounds like it's something they would like and feel like it's an important subject to read about. 4/5 Stars.

1 comment:

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