Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Page count: 288
Publication date: October 18, 2007
Genres: Fiction, contemporary
Age group: YA
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.
This review is written by a person who has never contemplated suicide, and therefore my perspective is without reference.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a very polarizing book. Some people say it saved their lives and others hate everything about it. I’m not going to touch on how problematic or not the content was because I don’t feel like it’s my place, so this review is only going to be looking at the more mechanical parts of this novel alone.
I really liked the format of Thirteen Reasons Why. The audio tape broken up by Clay’s narrative is an interesting concept, though I definitely got mixed up at times. A few times, Clay would observe something and I would get mixed up and think it came from Hannah’s tapes, but that was probably just my fault for reading too fast.
The pacing was amazing. If I hadn’t started it at midnight I probably would have read it all in one sitting! It felt almost thriller-y for some reason that I’m really struggling to put into words. It was definitely reminiscent of some of the YA thrillers I’ve read, both tone-wise and pacing-wise.
As I said, the tone definitely reminded me of a thriller. It probably helped that the entire book took place over a couple of hours and was at night, but the darkness thematically really sold it. This is not a happy book. The themes and messages are pretty heavy and you should probably be prepared and in the right headspace before you start reading.
Any thoughts or opinions?