Remember how I said I liked books that build stories around things in real life? Well, I also like stories that build around things that aren’t real life, but seem to be. I know, all of that makes a ton of sense, but I promise you’ll get it when I review today’s book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
The title on the book is written like Th1rteen R3asons Why but I’m not sure that’s how you write it in a review such as this. I like both. But I’m going to stick with the more searchable way to write it. Maybe I should just write 13 Reasons Why because kids these days…lazy, I tell ya. Can’t even write out the number thirteen.
You may have heard about this book, especially if you read Entertainment Weekly because it is being made into a movie in the near future. I don’t want to go all hipster on you, but I read this book the same year it came out. Probably even days or weeks after it did. I just happened to be perusing the book store and bought it in hardcover. Yeah, so, I knew it before it was cool to know it.
The book centers around two people. In present time, it is around Clay, a boy who receives a box of cassette tapes (what up, 90s) from a classmate named Hannah who has recently killed herself. Naturally, Hannah is the other main character, but we only hear from her via her tapes and in Clay’s memories.
Hannah leaves thirteen tapes, hence the title. She requests that Clay visits locations she specifies and also delivers tapes to people she specifies. (Clay listening to the tapes and us “hearing” it is what I’m talking about in the first paragraph. Make sense? Probably not. But it’s cool.) Clay is understandably horrified as he listens to each tape and discovers the secrets of why Hannah decided to kill herself. He worries if he was one of the thirteen reasons she is no longer alive.
This book is compelling and suspenseful, although the worst thing that can happen has, in theory, already happened. Hannah is gone. But is there something worse? Knowing that maybe you were one of the 13 reasons a young girl killed herself? Was it one big event or a series of small events?
Thirteen Reasons Why will make you second guess every interaction you have with someone. I love that it shows a chain reaction of hatefulness and hurt. (Obviously, I don’t love hate and hurt. I just love the storytelling. Stop thinking mean things about me.) You rarely in real life get to read or hear about the events that lead to someone’s death, and it is a unique thing to be able to “see.” I love that Jay Asher uses Hannah’s voice, literally, to tell the story through her cassette tapes.
Ever since I was a little kid, I wondered if things I had done led to something that harmed someone else. (I KNOW. I’m a weirdo.) Like say I narrowly missed getting hit by a car in my own car, which led to them spinning out of control and getting into an accident. What if I was too preoccupied to notice? Everything you see or read about time travel, in the made up sense, emphasizes that any little thing you change when traveling back in time could affect the future. I feel like this is sort of the same thing. In the book, you read Hannah’s accounts of what happened in her life that led to her death. What if any one of those situations were changed? It could have changed the outcome of her life.
This is one of those “Just Do It” novels. Just read it. It says that it’s a YA novel, but whatever. I know all of you have either read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games and those are totally YA. This book is amazing. So don’t be afraid to venture into the YA section and pick it up. You won’t regret it. Who knows, maybe it could change your future. WoooOOOooo…spooky.
Also, just remember that I knew about it before it was cool. So I guess I’m totally a hipster. Here’s some hipster lessons if you’re not sure how to be one just like me. I’m over it.