10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2011
Clay Jensen received a parcel in the mail. Inside are seven tapes. When Clay presses `play', he hears a voice he never thought he'd hear again. Hannah Baker. She committed suicide. And those who are sent the tapes had some part in her death. But... it's got to be a joke, right? Some cruel, twisted practical joke. There's no way Clay had anything to do with Hannah's suicide. He barely even knew her... But how can he handle not knowing? So he does as Hannah says. He presses play, and he listens. What he hears will change him. Forever...
I was talking about this book with Sammee (I Want To Read That). Both of us agreed that the emotions in this book were the best aspect. Because they were: they were intense, almost on the verge of overwhelming. But as for Hannah... In any other book, I would have loved a girl like Hannah. But... the tapes. The saying "ignorance is bliss" pops to mind. I mean, could you live with yourself afterward? Knowing you'd helped push a girl to suicide? I couldn't. And should Hannah have done it? It seemed cruel. Me and Sammee were talking about that, and we both couldn't really understand the maliciousness of that act, sending them all those tapes. Ok, so it may have made them all better people. But, to make someone go through that, to make Clay go through that... Some of them deserved it. Undeniably. But others, they really didn't. That was my one fault with the book. Why. Not why she died. Why she sent the tapes to them all. Rant over, back to the review...
Clay Jensen was someone I felt incredible sorry for. He honestly was distraught, horrified, that he had anything to do with Hannah's death. He really, truly loved her. Even though he never told her, he did. God. Break my heart, why don't you? He honestly obsessed over her. He wanted to look out for her. He blamed himself for not trying harder, not being able to help. He didn't deserve it.
Hannah Baker had a slightly snarky voice, though that may have been because she was angry with the ones mentioned on the tapes. Either way, I found her rather funny. She went through a lot of rubbish. But she seemed to be so full of life. I didn't get why. Why she'd throw it all away. And, just like Clay, I hated her for that. As she spoke, I could feel her pain. And it killed me to hear everything she's gone through. She didn't deserve it. But that still didn't give me the answer to my big question: why she sent the tapes...
I loved how it was written, Hannah's voice on the tape and then Clay talking in between, thinking, feeling, remembering. I also loved seeing how everything Hannah said made Clay realise how he'd done something wrong, how he wished he acted when he didn't. She made him think about things he never would have thought twice about otherwise.
I've been left a tangle of emotions after reading this. My feelings were everywhere as I read. I felt like screaming or laughing or throwing the book away. But I just couldn't. I had to know why. I imagine, if Clay were real, if it all were real, that is how he would have felt. And my heart just broke over and over and over again. For Clay. For Hannah. For what could have been. For what was lost. How many books can do that to you? I can count them on one hand. It was beautiful. Heartbreaking. Lifeaffirming.
I cried, a lot. And I loved every second. Thank you, Mr Asher, for writing this book. For making me think. And I promise I'll never forget what Thirteen Reasons Why taught me. That:
"everything affects everything".
102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
I don't often write introductions to my reviews. In fact, the last time I can remember doing so was with the wonderful PUCKER by Melanie Gideon, which I read in 2006. However, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, the debut novel from author Jay Asher, is the type of book that begs an introduction. So if you'd like to skip down to the third paragraph for the "meat" of the story, I won't hold it against you -- but you'll be missing something important.
If you have the chance to only read one novel this year, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY should be that book. It's sad, amazing, heartbreaking, and hopeful, all at the same time. I dare you to read it and not become so immersed in the story that you lose track of time and your surroundings. You'll cry, several times, while reading this story. You'll have no choice but to think about your actions, and wonder what type of effect they have on other people. And, in the end, you might also find the need to say "thank you."
Now, on to the story...
When Clay Jensen finds a package on his front porch, he's excited. A package, for him? With no return address? What could it possibly be? What Clay finds is a shoebox full of cassette tapes, each marked as "Cassette 1: Side A," "Cassette 1: Side B," etc. Of course he rushes to the old radio/cassette player in his dad's garage to check out these mysterious tapes.
And soon wishes, wholeheartedly, that he'd never picked up that stupid package from his front porch.
What he hears when he inserts that first tape is the voice of Hannah Baker. Hannah, the girl he'd crushed on for longer than he could remember. The girl he went to school with. The girl he worked at the movie theater with. The girl who had changed, drastically, in the last several months. Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide.
Clay soon realizes that these tapes aren't just a suicide note, aren't, really, even a clear-cut rendition of why she did what she did. Instead, these are thirteen reasons -- thirteen people, to be exact -- who created a snowball-effect of events that led Hannah to believe that suicide was her only option. But why is Clay on that list? How could he possibly be one of the reasons that she killed herself?
As the day goes on, Clay becomes obsessed with listening to the tapes. And what he hears frightens him, disturbs him, and, in the end, leads him to realizations that he never would have expected. As Clay listens to the role that thirteen people, including himself, led in the ultimate death of Hannah Baker, his view of the world, and himself, changes drastically.
You will love this book, because you won't be able to help yourself. You will feel what Clay feels. You will, in a very strong way, experience the highs and lows of Hannah's life right along with her. And there is nothing, in my opinion, that could speak better for the authenticity of a book. Read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. And then, if you're like me, you'll read it again. And, hopefully, none of us will ever forget it.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2009
Clay finds a package waiting on his doorstep. There is no return address and, excited, he quickly opens it. Inside are seven tapes, numbered on each side. Clay can't understand why anyone would send him these tapes until he plays side number one, and hears the voice of Hannah Baker, the girl he could have loved, the girl who killed herself two weeks ago.
The tapes are not a suicide note, nor a comprehensive account of why Hannah decided to commit suicide. Instead, Hannah dedicates one side of a tape to everyone in her life who gave her cause to hate the world she was in so badly that she took her own life. Their acts, which range from sexual harassment to bragging and spreading gossip, impacted on Hannah in ways that recipients of the tapes were not aware of, a theme which the author weaves strongly throughout the book. Over the course of one night, Clay listens to each tape and learns more about Hannah than he had ever learnt before she died, learns more about his friends and classmates than he could ever have known. Much of what he learns he wishes he could forget, but he must keep listening until Hannah has said all she wanted to say.
Suicide is a serious topic for a book aimed at young adults, but Asher has dealt with it in an honest and sensitive way. The reasons that Hannah cites in her tapes seem, at first, to be frivolous and petty, daily incidents that many people will be familiar with. Over the course of the book, each layer is added to by the next tape and finally a full picture of Hannah emerges that is neither frivolous nor petty and it becomes easier to understand how and why Hannah has reacted in such an extreme way. Clay is key to this understanding, providing the reader with an outsider's point of view to many of the incidents described in the tape which allows us to see that Hannah had become isolated and introverted. Clay also reacts well to her reasoning; that no one could see, no one would listen, and that people were unwilling to help. His slight irritation but more importantly his heartbreak over her actions brings the reader, who often finds sympathy with Hannah, to ground. Hannah's assumptions, which seem like fact to her by the end of the seventh tape, are countered by Clay and this adds to the main tragedy of the book; that Hannah could have found a way out for herself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
This book had what seemed like a great plot that I thought seemed quite original, however did not live up to expectations.
My two main problems with this book were:
Firstly the book was set all in one night even though the tapes took us back to events gone by. Clay the guy whos turn with the tapes it was listened to them in the space of one night, this made the story shallow somehow, like it didnt create enough history of the characters, no personality, it didnt really build a picture of who they were what they were like so you never felt you knew them, it all felt a little rushed and hollow to me.
Secondly and perhaps most importantly was the main character Hannah's reasons for committing suicide, they were down right silly and not what you'd expect someone to end their life over, yes everyone deals with different situations in life in different ways, and things some people might not be bothered by could really hurt another but still these "reasons" were not what you'd call serious. Most (I wont give them away) seemed petty and childish, and most people go through the same things if not worse at high school. One reason she gives towards the end involving a girl being vialated I feel Hannah could have done more but was weak instead so helped contribute to her own problems instead of speaking out, so she was part of the problem. Yet she was quick to blame others for her death which I dont think is entirely fair.
The book is slow, not overly excting, annoying at times (there are people out there with real problems) and lacked depth. However I managed to finish it if only in hope it would redeem itself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I've thought a little about how to rate and review this book. It's not an easy one and I can see has already polarised other reviewers.
I can't fault the style. It's brilliant. Hannah has committed suicide. No spoilers there - it's at the start of the book. Clay receives a set of audiotapes in the post that explain why she did it. And apparently he was one of her thirteen reasons. The book uses a dual/synchronised narrative structure, which alternates between Clay's present - his thoughts and feelings - and Hannah's taped story. I loved this idea. It was well deployed, although quite regularly I was speaking one voice in my head and suddenly realised it was the other narrator talking so I needed to backtrack and 'think it through' in the other voice. Which was a bit annoying. But as they are written in different fonts, that was hardly anyone else's fault!
Hannah's voice was both mature and erudite. Which also was a little annoying as well as highly readable. She is supposedly on the brink of killing herself but still has a dark sense of humour, and can talk quite lightly about her situation at times. It jangled a little, though mostly it was compelling.
Throughout the story you know where the book is going, we know that the ending can't be changed but want to know exactly what drove Hannah to end her own life. I must say, a lot of the 'chain of events' if it is a chain seem quite minor incidents. But a lot of suicidal people may not kill themselves for reasons others of us find particularly important, so who am I to say Hannah's reasons aren't justified in her mind? And certainly, towards the end, there are some shocking events that a teenager shouldn't have to cope or live with. Hannah isn't a bad person, she makes bad decisions, has bad luck, doesn't go all out to make changes. It's very sad.
I feel so sorry for Clay, listening to the tapes wondering 'what did I do? Is it my fault?' What a situation to be in.
Indeed, a compelling book, with a fantastic style, and a lot to talk about within.
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
I'm finding this book really difficult to review. The main reason for this is that it's a few years now since I was a teenager (OK, a great many years) and to do this review justice I am going to have to take myself back to those days; those days of of falling out with your best friend and it ruining your life for an afternoon, unrequited crushes, rumours and gossip that can make your life a misery for a whole day (which feels like a whole year when you're that age). That's where I need to place myself in order to get under Hannah's skin as if I don't this review will be completely different. In fact, let's go there - let's talk about what I thought reading it now and then talk about how I would have felt over 20 year ago.
I'll start by saying that the premise is brilliant. A box of cassettes lands on your doorstep and when you play them, the voice coming through your speaker-phone is that of Hannah Baker. Only Hannah Baker killed herself two weeks ago. The young boy, Clay, is one of 13 people who will recieve these tapes in turn and each one of those 13 people contributed to why Hannah killed herself. An interview with the author at the end of the book says that he got the idea for the tapes when he was listening to an audio in a museum and he was fascinated with how spooky it was to listen to someones voice who wasn't really there. That's how it must have felt to Clay when he played the tapes - for not only was Hannah dead but Clay really liked her. How can he be one of the reasons for her wanting to kill herself? Clay takes the tapes and plays them on a walkman while he follows the map that Hannah also left to point out various places that mean something within her story like the park where she had her first kiss and the party that changed everything.
OK, so now onto what I thought: while reading this I decided that I didn't actually like Hannah very much and had little sympathy for her most of the time. The things she was accusing people of doing to her (most of it unintentional) seemed (to my adult self) pretty lame in most cases. Hannah accuses people of not seeing the real her yet she makes little effort to make any real friends or to open up to others. Kids from her shcool are named and shamed as being one of the catalysts for her suicide and really they didn't do much other than be normal high school kids. Don't get me wrong, I know anyone who has read this book will be yelling at the screen "but what about so-and-so?" and yes, there were some horrible people who deserved their cummupance; Hannah was the victim of an untrue rumour that started the snowball effect of her downfall. So why am I so down on Hannah? The truth is, I don't know. It could be that I'm over all the he-said-she-said school stuff, it could be becasue I'm a northerner and we're well known up here for not being soft and "brushing ourselves down and just getting on with things", it could be because Hannah seems so angry and vengeful - fancy making people listen to your last few days on earth and accusing them of putting you in an early grave! Suicidal people, from my understanding, tend to be in a depressive state, not a state of anger like Hannah is. She is bitter and wants people to pay. In my book, that makes her as bad as the people she claims to be the victim of - they will have to live with those tapes for the rest of their lives.
Now onto my "teenage head". If I had read this book in school I would have loved it, I know I would. At a time when every little thing is magnified to epic proportions, then I would have felt Hannah's pain. I would have cried for her. She never really got the chance to fit in at her new school because a boy she liked over-egged the details of their first kiss and Hannah had to deal with the consequences for the next few years. As a teenager, I loved the dramatics and what Hannah did with the tapes would have had me punching the air for her - go Hannah! There are some very tender moments in this book too when you really begin to understand how one thing can snowball into another and before you know it you're at rock bottom.
So, to conclude: I'm still as unsure about it as I was before. Good book? Yes, it's a great book and quick read. But I still have my problem with Hannah. So my blunt northern self says "come on, pull yourself together, girl!".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2011
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is a fantastic book. It's the kind of book you can't put down - i finished reading it in two days. It's a real page turner. Jay Asher completely encapsulates the teenage perspective and, speaking as a 15 year old girl, it was so easy to relate to Hannah and see how quickly events can snowball. I'm not a suicide sympathizer and i began by being quite cynical about Hannah's reasons for suicide but by the end of the book you can see why she did it and that it wasn't for attention.
The book really addresses the issue of suicide in a candid and frank way. Having known people who have attempted, and in one case succeeded, suicide the book helps understand the issue. The characters were very well written, by the end of the book i felt like i knew them inside out and even though you know throughout the book Hannah is dead it still hits you at the end because she's such a great character and you feel Clay's pain with him.
The book keeps you guessing till the end, about who the next person on Hannah's list is, how Clay comes into the mix, and how everything and everyone fits together like a jigsaw spelling suicide.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2013
Where it belongs: YA, Contemporary, Mystery, Drama, (Romance?)
Clay Jensen comes home from school excited to find a mystery box sitting on his porch. The box is filled with cassette tapes. Seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, a girl who he has had a crush on since she moved to town. A girl who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
The tapes document Hannah's thirteen reasons for why she ended her life and the people responsible for her death. Each one must listen to the tapes and then pass them on to the next person on the list. And Clay is next on the list.
Confused as to what he could have possibly done, Clay becomes obsessed with hearing Hannah's story, awaiting anxiously for his own name to crop up as he uncovers the disturbing truths that caused Hannah to give up hope.
TRIGGER WARNING: As noted above, this book discusses and deals with suicide in great detail. Please bear this in mind and do not read on if you feel this topic could be too emotionally distressing for you.
I really have to applaud Jay Asher for coming up with such a compelling premise. I was so eager to find out just what - or, actually, who - was on the tapes and why and, specifically, where Clay fit in. It was also really interesting to see how all the different people in Hannah's life played their own small parts in her choice.
But Hannah kind of had a tendency to be over-dramatic. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. Yes, some of the things that happened were bad. But other reasons and other people she 'blamed'? Well, it was just kind of childish. In my opinion, there were a couple of people who really didn't deserve to be on those tapes.
I know the whole point is that it's supposed to be a culmination of events that lead to her choice, but there were points in the book where I was just like: seriously, Hannah?
Then again, that was also the beauty of it: Hannah annoyed me. But she also completely pulled me in. She was whiny, but she was also sympathetic. She was a real person with faults. Good points and bad points. Which only made me want to read on more.
I actually think the book would've been more effective if it was told from Hannah's point of view. Perhaps showing her making the tapes and following her story as she did, so we could get more of an insight. As it stands, things were told from Clay's point of view, with Hannah's voice interjecting whenever the tapes were played. And Clay just didn't hold my attention. I wanted to know Hannah's story so much that I found myself completely uninterested in Clay's.But still, the idea that we could affect someone's life so drastically with even the smallest and seemingly insignificant of acts really gave me something to think about. And I commend Asher for that.
This is a book that makes you wonder: how can you tell if someone is suffering? What constitutes as a 'good enough' reason for suicide? How do you know the effect you've had on someone's life? Can we ever really understand each other?
Though there were some things that irked me, I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to fans of YA as I really think it's a hidden gem in the world of Young Adult literature. There's some romance, there's drama, there's mystery and intrigue And, if nothing else, this is a book that will leave you thinking.
The only reason I'm not giving it a higher rating is because I liked the premise better than the execution - I wanted more Hannah and less Clay.
Favourite quote: 'You don't know what goes on in anyone's life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person's life, you're not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can't be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life. Everything affects everything'
Overall rating: 3/5 little birdies
For more reviews made of awesome, visit my blog Little Birdie Books: [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2013
As I picked up this book I'd been reading a lot of happy stories lately (or at least ones with happy endings) and was craving a change, so it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. I was also intrigued by the dual-narrative of Hannah's voice on the tapes against Clay's thoughts as he listens to them. It was depressing, and just good enough to keep me reading all the way to the end (I'm far less hesitant than some others to put a book down if I'm not enjoying it) but overall I was disappointed by it. I was expecting this book to make me a bit more emotional but I just found myself not caring that much, and not really sympathising with Hannah. Her first few reasons for her suicide seemed a bit under-whelming. Nothing that you'd wish on yourself, but they really didn't seem extreme enough to kill yourself over. Yes I know, everything is magnified in high school, and the fact that people might get affected by something more than you'd imagine is the main message of this book, but even with that in mind I still didn't find it convincing. As the reasons progressed nothing really changed. I was waiting for something really awful and shocking to happen and it just...didn't. OK, so it did get slightly worse towards the end, but still, all the way through the only word on my mind was 'over-reaction'. Suicide generally comes from the kind of hopelessness that makes you blame yourself (not everyone else) for everything and when you feel truly alone, as if no one cares for you. This isn't true in Hannah's case, which Clay points out as he tried to help her and she pushed him away. Even when Clay points this out, he still continues to feel responsible which is a natural reaction for someone in his situation but to us readers just makes Hannah less sympathetic than I feel she should be.
Speaking of which, I had a feeling there was going to be a big twist with Clay, that it would turn out that he actually hurt Hannah more than he thought, in a way that didn't occur to him before but would make complete sense when told from her point of view. If this had happened it would have been a far more effective way of demonstrating the main message I mentioned earlier. Instead Clay's part in the story was dealt with earlier than I expected and Hannah even says that he didn't really do anything wrong, and if anything she wants to apologise to him for rejecting him, but she just had to put him on the tape to complete the story. After that I wondered just how shocking/moving/any-other-cathartic-adjective-that-would-apply-if-this-book-was-written-well this book could get from then on and the answer was what I expected: not very.
In summary, there's nothing awful about this book, just quite a bit that's unconvincing, underwhelming, and makes you wish it was better.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
This book was beautiful and touching in all the ways it needed to be. I empahized so much with Clay in the book. He seems to end up almost more lost as the book progressed but Asher's description of his wandering and inside thoughts made me appreciate what he is going through all the more. Hannah on the other hand, this is where Jay Asher lost a star. I empathized so much with Hannah at the beginning and still do to an extent but as the tapes wore on it became almost malicious. I know this may be harsh as it was obviously a desperate cry for help, but as a 'teen' book I find it a tad misrepresented as even as an old teen (19) i almost felt like it was being portrayed as a perfect payback scheme. Hannah obviously went through some terrible ordeals some which you can tell pushed her closer to the edge but some just feel vendictive and malicious and i felt almost as if it was kids fighing in the playground.
Again i would like to point out that i did love this book, i could not put it down, i do think through that with a subject as sensitive as suicide, it needs to be approached in a more sensitive manner, especially when kids plan to read it.
One other suggestion as to how this book would be slightly better is to have had the reactions of all the different recipients of the tapes. I know Clay is the main character but he really came out of the tapes as a good guy, it would have been nice to have seen an insight to one of those who has wronged her and to explore their feelings into how they felt when faced with the reality that their wrong doings had somehow lead to the death of a kind sweet girl.
Baring all these points in mind i do reccommend this book. Teens need to be careful as to how seriously they take it. it is a hard hitting message which displays a girls cry for help which has gone unanswered. For everyone older, it is a sympathetic read (yes ashamed to admit it but i did shed a tear or 10) well written and explores the life of a girl deperate for approval and a boy who now knows who caused it and why she commited suidide.