Shiirleyy's Bookshelf has migrated to Dear Shirley ! I will continue to post book reviews but there will also be a lot of personal and travel-related posts :)

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

10 May 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why 
by Jay Asher 
Publisher: Penguin    
Release Date: 2009 

 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 one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. 

If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.

Having just finished 13 Reasons Why, I’m in two minds; on one hand, from a personal perspective, I didn’t like the portrayal of Hannah, her actions and did not agree with the overall message of the book. I am aware that the message I took from 13 Reasons Why is completely different to what the author's intended purpose was, but everyone interprets books differently and unfortunately, the intended message didn't resonate with me. Having said that, I do feel that with the right audience, this book can have a powerful effect on its readers. As someone who has never had suicidal thoughts/tendencies I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on the suicide aspects of the book. I mean, something that I think is completely trivial and insignificant in the grand scheme of things could potentially be the catalyst for someone else’s demise. This review is purely my opinion and I’ll try to be as non-judgmental as possible.

 I, like many other reviewers think that to enjoy this book, one must first and foremost be able to empathise with Hannah. Now, kudos to all the people who did empathise with her but good Lord, she was whiny, oversensitive and self-absorbed. (Sorry no more judgmental comments from me) I mean, I felt sorry for her, sure, but did that feeling transform into empathy? Unfortunately no. I won’t go into all the reasons why I didn’t like her because like I said above, I don’t think I have the right to judge her so I’ll leave it at that.

 I was often exasperated at the shifting of perspectives between Clay’s life/thoughts in the present day and Hannah’s narration on the tapes. I would be absorbed in Hannah’s story and trying to guess how the current guy/girl fucked up, when all of a sudden I’d be reading a line that made absolutely no sense given the context. I would re-read it and realize that it was actually Clay’s thought about something completely irrelevant to Hannah’s story. Not going to lie, I skimmed most of Clay’s thoughts and instead jumped to Hannah’s story. At the start of every chapter, I hoped that the next person would fuck up so badly that I would finally warm up to Hannah and understand her, but disappointingly that never happened.

 I’m definitely looking forward to watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I’ve heard the show doesn’t shy away from graphic scenes and I’m glad about that. Despite being disappointed with the book, I have high hopes for the show. Perhaps the acting will change my mind about Hannah.

 UPDATE: Watched the show and loved the acting!!! Unfortunately the message I took from the TV show was even worse than the message I got from the book. I did however start to understand Hannah's decision towards the end (after what Bryce did, which was by the way different from what happened in the book). Having said that, I did have A LOT of issues with it (primarily the fact that everyone was blaming each other but no one gave a shit about the rapist in town?). I'm considering doing a 13 Reasons Why TV Show review too but we'll see :)

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