13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published: October 18th 2007 by Razorbill
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
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 as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
For a book that came out almost 10 years ago, it is still being heavily talked about today. Most likely many thanks to Netflix and it’s new series that was released a few months ago. My review will kind of be a comparison between the Netflix show and the actual book itself, mainly what I liked about both and what I didn’t like. So a word of caution, this review will be kind of spoiler-y.
For starters, I really liked how in the book Clay was able to listen to all of the tapes in one day. During the show, I didn’t like how he dragged it out so long!!! (But I also realize that the show had to do that in order to…oh I don’t know have a show) Clay also had more personality in the show than he did in the book, but he did annoy me a lot more than in the book. So it’s kind of a toss up between book Clay and tv Clay.
One aspect that I didn’t really like about both formats are Hannah’s reasons for ending her life. Yes, most of the things were awful that happened to her, but did that warrant suicide? Definitely not. Granted I understand that her rape in the show caused a lot of psychological problems and her guidance counselor saying to just get over it did not help at all. That out of all of the reasons, I view, is the most serious of them all (and I liked how in the show Clay was able to get a confession from her rapist). Although, this situation could have been totally avoided. One, why did Hannah even go to his house when she knew that he was a rapist to begin with? It was as if she needed a real reason to commit suicide other than the petty reasons she started off with.
In the show, I really liked how there was more of a connection between Clay and the guy from school who died in the car accident (unfortunately I don’t remember his name right now). It made the moment stand out more and shows the serious impacts of peoples actions or rather inactions. Mainly, I really liked how Clay told Hannah that she didn’t get to make the situation about her because not everything was about her when she tried to apologize to him after the accident. She could have came clean about her and the cheerleader knocking down the stop sign instead of making a tape about it, and how that ruined her life. At least she was still alive to be able to tell her story, not like Clay’s friend who they all thought he was drunk driving.
In the novel she committed suicide by overdosing on pills. In the show, she had a more gruesome suicide. Was this necessary? No, her death was going to be dramatic enough without having to go overboard.
I could go on, but I think most of my critique of the book/show would be about Hannah and I think I hit most of the points I wanted about her. I think this book does a good job of going into the mind of a teenager and how even small things could be taken with a bigger meaning than other people realize. It also does a good job of starting communications for at risk teens by recognizing the warning signs. I have never had suicidal tendencies, so I don’t know/can’t say how someone who does will react to this book/show. With that being said I hope 13 Reasons Why doesn’t have a negative impact and show teenagers and even younger kids that suicide is an option when everyone seems to be against you.
Have you read this book/watched the show? What did you think about it?