Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Imagine you came home one day to find a package; within the package are thirteen cassette tapes. These tapes contain some of the last words of your classmate (and first love) who overdosed on pills two weeks prior. On the tapes, she explains the steps that led to her making her fatal decision; thirteen tapes, thirteen reasons, thirteen people…and you are one of them.

Despite the subject matter, I  really liked Thirteen Reasons Why; I think mainly because of the unique idea and Asher’s way of writing, which glues you to the pages, along with the content as you yearn to discover who is to blame and why. I also liked unique format and dual narrative – you have Hannah on the tapes whilst Clay, the recipient, listens and traces the of her story throughout town, bumping into various people on the way and giving the reader immediate reactions to Hannah’s words, instead of in alternate chapters which would have been a very bad idea. I also loved the atmosphere of the town, no doubt helped by the map that Clay uses and the fact that the majority of it was based on real places, that Asher has managed to capture in his wonderfully woven story.

My only complaint was that Hannah did not appear to be all that depressed in her manner of narrating the tapes (though I appreciate this is also representative of a person going through such a difficult time), and appeared more of a moaner who took things that happen to everyone way too personally and seriously; so although I quite liked her as a character, I found it slightly difficult to sympathise with her, especially pulling people who didn’t need to be into it, like the person with the other set of tapes, but I generally found her and everyone else fairly realistic and it was an usually accurate representation of high school. I also found it fairly difficult to believe that no one had any idea at all what she was planning to do, not even when suicide was brought up in class, leaflets were handed out and she displayed the classic symptoms.

I really (though I hesitate to use the word) enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why, and it’s such a thought-provoking, well written and eye-opening novel that I really think everyone should read it.

[SYNOPSIS: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 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.]
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