by Jay Asher
Published: 6th August 2009
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 first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself – a truth he never wanted to face.
What a blurb! After reading that, I clicked the ‘Buy now with 1 click’ button without a second thought. I downloaded the book onto my kindle and immediately began reading. Life stopped until I finished the last sentence.
Just to begin, this story does deal with some sensitive subject matters that may be distressing to some readers. I thought the way the author wrote this book neither glamorises, nor undermines the subject matter.
I loved the interesting way this book is written. I’m always on the hunt for books that have an interesting structure, and this book did not disappoint in that respect. The author tells the story from dual narratives. This intrigued me initially as I wasn’t sure how the author would be able to pull it off. The narrative is written from the point of view of Hannah through her audio taped suicide note. It’s also written from Clay’s point of view: his reactions and memories.
Along with the cassette tapes, Clay received a map that highlighted the places that were important to Hannah and her story. This added further depth to the narrative, as it stopped the reader from simply listening to the tapes. Essentially, getting me ‘off the couch’ and throwing me straight into the characters world. Hannah wanted Clay and the other people on the list to take in the surroundings, visualise the scene, as she recounted the incidents that led her to ending her life.
I walked alongside Clay on his journey, across town, through his (and Hannah’s) memories and through the emotional revelations. I felt I was stood there with Clay, listening to Hannah, seeing her memories unfold. The author did a really good job of helping me visualise their world. I quickly realised I was desperate to find out the reasons that led Hannah to end her life, just as Clay was. I’d become connected to the characters, I felt strongly for Hannah. The incidents that led her to end her life were precious to her, and it genuinely left me feeling sad that I couldn’t help her.
The pace of this book was spot-on: the author has an incredible way of slowly feeding the revelations to the reader. The pace of this book is what made me want to steam through. It was suspenseful and thought provoking. No piece of information was rushed, which I found fitting as every piece of information was important to Hannah, and her decision.
I loved the way the author seamlessly weaved the narratives together, transitioning from past to present. I loved the little things like the the chapters were named according to the number of the tape, and which side it was on, emphasising the chapters in the characters story.
The author made the character’s voices distinct. I had no issue distinguishing between the two narrative points of view. Hannah’s audio tapes are italicised, but I felt like I could have read the book without this. Hannah’s morbidly funny, strong voice shone through. I never had to stop and turn back to see which characters said what.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book that evoked many different emotions in me. Ultimately, it left me thinking that it really is the little things that could affect someone, a complete stranger, a friend. I think that’s the most powerful thing I took from this book: to be careful about how you treat people. I would hate myself if I did anything that would find me on the list.
In short: I could not put this book down. I finished the book the same day I began it, barely stopping to eat. Hooked doesn’t even cover it!
I would definitely recommend this book. Go, quickly, grab a copy!
If you’d like to get yourself a copy: Amazon link