Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Jay Asher's debut novel has an interesting premise - Clay, a high schooler receives a mysterious package of audiotapes in the mail. They are from Hannah Baker, who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. On the tapes, Hannah narrates the 13 reasons that led her to kill herself (i.e. the people that caused her such anguish). Clay was "lucky" enough to be on Hannah's list and must pass off the tapes when he is finished listening to them.
The story is obviously told in flashbacks that detail several indviduals who were just awful to Hannah. Pretty much any kind of bad high school experience is on Hannah's tape-drinking, sex, bullying. Though this is a YA book, the amount of teen angst is a little too much at times. Hannah herself doesn't really come off as a fabulous (or even likeable) character considering that suicide is an inherently very selfish act and she spends 250+ pages blaming everyone else for her death. The only character that you feel kind of bad for is poor Clay, who worshipped Hannah and never got up the nerve to tell her his true feelings, only to be rewarded with these depressing tapes.
For some reason, reading this book made me feel very tense, as if I was reading some kind of spy thriller. I have no decent explanation why. I guess I kept thinking there'd be a really nice twist at the end - like she was murdered or something. I guess Hannah (and Asher by default) was trying to say that all those participants on the tapes were the true killers. I don't buy it. Her 13 reasons were kind of weak, if you ask me. High school sucks, but not enough to kill yourself over it.

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