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4.2 out of 5 stars
Thirteen Reasons Why
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2010
"Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 13 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."

When I first heard about this book, I imagined it would be about the death of Hannah and a rather morbid story. However it was very different to what I imagined. While the main character is dead, it was a story about life and rarely ventured into the awkward topic of her suicide. Death is something that people try to avoid, despite being a subject that makes people curious, and Asher has done well to satisfy the reader's curiosity without writing a depressing story.

Thirteen Reasons Why is thought-provoking, with some serious themes that makes you think about your own actions. It's impossible to read without thinking, "If one of my friends did this, why would I be on the list?" One of the main themes in the book is how small actions that are considered unimportant can lead to bigger things, as well as how not taking action is as bad as encouraging something.

It was interesting to meet the different characters throughout the book and see how their perceived image is different from reality. The tapes that Hannah records in the book show how the people she knew let her down, and throughout the book various characters act in different ways to what was recorded. Some tried to find a scapegoat, some set out to get revenge, while others tried to change their ways to make sure they didn't make the same mistake twice.

I thought the story was very well-written, keeping me up late at night when I felt the need to find out what happened next. I would recommend it to fans of more serious teenage fiction, such as Blue by Sue Mayfield or even Before I Die by Jenny Downham. Asher writes in a way which tells the reader what they need to know without slowing down the progress of the story.

A fine read which I will be recommending to everyone I can.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2010
I have just finished reading this book (couldn't put it down and finished it in less than 2 days), and felt the need to say something about it. This book is amazing, truly a wonder to read. Don't be put off by this being a 'teen' book, I am a 27 yr old woman and I was incredibly moved by it.

I have never been too sympathic with anything surrounding suicide, but this has made me look at everything differently, especially how our actions, no matter how small they seem to us, can deeply effect someone else. If nothing else, you will come away from this book thinking about the way you treat people, and how you would like to be treated.

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I wouldn't say it's the best YA fiction I've ever read, but Thirteen Reasons Why does grip you and keep you reading until the end.

I can see where the other reviewers are coming from when they say that Hannah's reasons don't seem quite enough- not only to for her to kill herself as she does, but to be so angry about it. She seems desperate to make everyone on the list suffer- and actually, throughout the book I found myself dislking her character. I just wanted to shout at her- "GET A GRIP! GET OVER IT!" I mean, all teenagers know what rumours can do to you in High School, and it's horrible, but Hannah really does take teenage overreaction to another level.

That said, however, the way the story was unravelled was fascinating, and throughout I was desperate to find out who was next on the list. A good read, but it probably won't change your life.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2011
I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm a teenage girl and I read this when I was younger and even more liable to "sob-story" novels, but this didn't broaden my intellectual horizons or make my bawl my eyes out. No, it made my stress levels skyrocket and my urge to burn this book almost insatiable.

So that you can see that I'm not just beating this novel, I'll say some things that I did like about it.
- I thought that the main character, Clay, was well written (apart from his "love" for Hannah, but I'll get to that later)
- When I stepped back and thought about it, I realised that the basis of the plot was interesting and I might've loved this book if my love could have relied only on that.
- The general writing style was engaging.

There is only really one thing that I hate about this book. Unfortunately, it seems to taint the rest of the pages...

The thing I hate about this book is the character of Hannah. In short, Hannah kills herself at the beginning of the book, but not before she's recorded 13 tapes "blaming" people for her death. In general, people who feel suicidal tend to blame themselves for many things, which is why they kill themselves instead of fighting others who might've caused their unhappiness; so a girl on the brink of suicide wouldn't do something so sadistic to make people feel guilty. She just wouldn't.

Hannah spends all of the tapes that Clay listens to basically whinging about her life. There isn't any "My life doesn't hold any meaning for me anymore, and that's why I'm ending my life" sentences in it. Hannah is a stupid, melodramatic teenager who has a bunch of slightly sucky things happening to her and thinks that that is an adequate reason to overreact completely and kill herself. She talks about how traumatising it was to witness a rape. She could've said something to stop it, but didn't. Apparantly the rapist should be ashamed of himself, not because he raped someone, but because he didn't check the closet to see if a drunk Hannah was in it. She's pretty self-centered.

And the fact that Clay can't see past these millions of irritating flaws serves to irritate me more. It's like when you know somebody really annoying and they seem to annoy nobody but you. I quickly stopped being able to relate to Clay, and when you can't relate to the main character after page 10, something is wrong.

I'd recommend reading to anyone. Even if I don't particularly love a book, I almost always recommend it in order to further the passtime, but I wouldn't recommend anybody reading this.

It really sucks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2011
Being a 15 year old an lying within the teenage category this book is aimed at I thought that this book was very weak. I felt that the character of Hannah was very off-putting and that her reasons for taking her life were pathetic, unabling me to have any compasion for her. I enjoyed the layout of the text whereby Clay gives his opinnions on the tapes which added interest in the storyline which i think was well needed. However, due to the fact that Hannah was not very likeable I did not enjoy this book thereby scoring Thirten Reasons Why a 3 out of 5.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2011
I put this book down, looked at it, and actually felt horribly blown away. The events in this book, the things that lead to Hannah's suicide are every day things that happen to many girls including myself. The way it's so easy to relate to makes it a more disturbing and grabbing read. I felt so moved once I'd read it, and it does essentially open your eyes to the world.
I loved it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This is such a hard book to review. On the one hand, I can see what Asher was trying to do, what he was trying to achieve. Whilst on the other, there were times when the book frustrated me. Suicide is a huge subject to tackle and it is the sort of thing that people will always disagree on. Is it the coward's way out, for example, or is it just the most tragic cry for help a person can make? With THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, Asher puts across the idea that you can never truly know how your actions will affect another human being. You will never know, because you do not know what else is going on in their life, therefore you do not know how your actions add to this. OK, so the premise is fine, good even. But there is something about this book which stops me from giving it a higher rating.

Whilst reading, and since I have finished it, I have been thinking and trying to figure what it is that is niggling at me. And, personally, I think it is the character of Hannah, the girl who kills herself. She comes across as very angry - all though the tapes she accuses those who have done her wrong. Working as a counsellor, I think this is partly wrong. If she was suicidal, I think the main state for her would be desperation, not anger.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it doesn't matter, but for me something felt untrue about this book. However, if nothing else, it does encourage us to consider how we treat those who we come into contact with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2014
I was persuaded to buy this due to the rave reviews. However, I found this book to be so so; I felt that it was poorly written and that the ending was just lacking. I would recommend The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes instead which is well written and really thought-provoking.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I can see why this book came so highly recommended. I would particularly point you in the direction of the audiobook for two reasons: One: The format of Hannah's suicide note is audio. Two: the twin narrators were phenomenally well-suited to their roles. Through the beauty of the audiobook version, it seemed like Clay and Hannah were, at times, having some kind of eerie, post-mortal conversation. This made the book so much more powerful as Clay's responses to Hannah's strange suicide note are so heartfelt and genuine that you have to wonder if he might have been able to help her, if only she had given him a real chance to do so. I really enjoyed the perspective of the male protagonist. It made a nice change in a category of literature which often has a lot of female perspectives.

I suppose that we, as an audience, have to be able to see the chance that Hannah passed up on. The message to readers can then point out that there is always one chance of happiness left. We wouldn't want things to be too dismal now, would we? I was worried at first that, as we only get Clay's perspective on the matter, we might only see Hannah's suicidal proclivities as selfish. However, Asher and his protagonist explores perspectives on suicide and how people who try to get help can be seen as pathetic or "trying to get attention". Let's be fair, if you're trying that hard to get attention, then you might just need it.

I listened to this audiobook while I was painting my bedroom, a job I had not been looking forward to! This is why I love audiobooks, they allow you to read while getting on with the necessary chores of life. This audiobook had me mesmerised from the get-go. I know my mum would tell me to stop reading books about such dismal subject matter ('Iya mam!) because she thinks they'll make me miserable. But I find that such books often deal so excellently with the tough subjects that they turn out to be quite life affirming! Thirteen Reasons Why had such wonderful characters, a great depth of emotion and, in the end, a rather lovely message.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2010
This book is tricky to recommend to say the least. On the one hand, this book is packed with suspense. It presents the very "It's a Wonderful Life"-esque but worthwhile message that one person's behavior can have a ripple effect in a community, that there is no such thing as a meaningless act. It shows teens that even a person who might appear on the surface to be collected, attractive, smart, funny, and moderately popular could have real problems and could feel lonely or rejected. It shows the dangerous simultaneous power and hollowness of gossip. If you're not afraid of being a little controversial, I think this would make a bang-up book for a teen book discussion group because you would have a forum to discuss and debate these things and make sense of them along with the more troubling aspects, especially the main one, which is...

This is a revenge story. Hannah Baker is a girl surrounded by admirers and would-be friends, as well as some pretty toxic people,to say the least. In the end, she is influenced by the wrong crowd. The accumulated slings and arrows from the latter group deepen a growing depression (with all likelihood literal Depression) and she commits suicide. She records the reasons behind her decision onto a set of tapes that are passed on to very people that did her wrong. While Hannah staunchly believes she gave people enough of a chance to intervene, it also becomes clear that to a point, she didn't really let anyone really know her at all, and so everyone was set to fail. While some of the wrongs committed by her former enemies are grave enough to perhaps merit the blackmail that follows (a second set of tapes are be released to the public if the original tapes aren't passed along as instructed), the reader feels the guilt, pain, regret, and helplessness of the narrator (who is one of the recipients) so keenly that the reader must question whether if the punishment in some cases isn't worse than the crime. One hopes that at the end, the teen reader would see the big waste of it all, the destruction of a life, the ruins of the lives left behind, the hollowness of a triumph under such conditions, the error all around (on Hannah's part as well as the others)--and not just the fact that the bad guys pay dearly at the end, but that's what a good discussion could bring out.
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