Hannah Baker seems like a typical high school teenager, except she isn’t. Hannah commits suicide before being able to graduate and enter the real world. She has reasons for committing suicide and she is determined to let 13 people know how they affected her. Clay Jenson is one of those people. He receives the box of cassette tapes one day after school and is told to listen to all of the tapes carefully, and to follow a map he had received weeks ago, to find out why Hannah chose to end her life. After he listens to the tapes, he is told to pass the tapes onto the next person, if he doesnt, there will be consequences.
Note: There may be a few spoilers in my list, but none of my comments will ruin the book for you.
Thirteen reasons why I loved Thirteen Reasons Why
- It’s a page turner, to the max. I was laughing at myself while I was reading it because I couldn’t put it down. My husband told me that I need to stop reading so fast, and here I am reading this book like it’ll disappear by the end of the night.
- I love that even though the book has a mostly serious tone, it still made me laugh from time to time. Hannah likes to put jokes in her tapes to keep the listeners on their toes. They may not find the jokes funny, but I do.
- I read this book in a time span of 25 hours; stopping to sleep, tutor, clean the house, exercise, and eat.
- Boys and girls can relate to this book. Who wasn’t bullied in middle school/high school? Even the “cool” kids are harassed. No one is comfortable in their own body at that age, no matter how much they tell you they are.
- The map that Hannah provides of the town is a really cool idea. Although the journey towards her death is sad, I felt so attached to her character as I traveled with Clay to each place that was important in her story.
- You can listen to the tapes that Hannah has recorded here, which makes the whole book even creepier. The tapes are not word for word, like in the book, but they are a great addition to the novel, especially if this is a book that a class is reading in school. The tapes can be played the next day after the students have read a chapter the night before.
- It is a suspense novel. Of course, when the novel begins, or even before you open it, you know that Hannah commits suicide, it tells you this on the back cover, but you don’t know why or how. This is what keeps the pages turning; this is what kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it.
- As I was reading Hannah’s story, even though I knew she was dead, I kept thinking, “Well, maybe she isn’t. Maybe she will be alive in the end.” I had hope for Hannah, I had to have hope or I would have just cried the whole time.
- Clay is so endearing. I just wanted to tear him from the pages and give him a huge hug. He wanted to help Hannah so bad and he was/is so in love with her. It pains me to think that he is going to have to live with Hannah’s final words in his mind forever.
- I don’t know about you but when I read, I like to know how many pages I have until the next chapter starts, especially when I start to get tired. Since each chapter had a black, thick line on the first page of the chapter, I could clearly identify while looking on the outside of the book when the next chapter started. This was helpful!
- The diner in the book is called “Rosie’s Diner.” My name isn’t used very often in books/movies/anywhere really, but I feel special when it is used.
- I like how this story showed a different side to bullying. Not the typical, “Everyone is mean to me and no one talks to me.” It was more harassment and rumor starting kind of bullying, making Hannah feel uncomfortable and unsafe, wherever she went. People may not consider this bullying, but it is.
- I am impressed that Jay Asher is able to pick up the voice of a female character as well as he did and make her sound so real and emotional.
Five reasons why I didn’t love Thirteen Reasons Why
- It’s a traumatizing book; I had nightmares after reading it right before bed.
- Hannah is fighting fire with fire. Yes, what people did to her was wrong, even if some of it was unintentional and kids were just being kids, but she is intentionally hurting these people when she blames them for her death.
- It made me angry. I wanted Hannah to ask for more help, instead of just blaming everyone. I wanted her to talk to her parents more, or to Clay.
- I was left feeling empty. A sequel would help with the emptying feeling calling it, Life After the Thirteen Reasons, to see how those blamed by Hannah have been affected.
- The ending kind of made me mad. The last person she blames was unexpected and the way they reacted to her in the story seemed unrealistic.
Even though there are reasons I don’t love this book, overall I am now a fan of Jay Asher and his writing. Thirteen Reasons Why contains a meaningful story that everyone must read. The fact that I pretty much read this book non-stop, means it is worth picking up at the library, or even buying.
If you like transmedia (storytelling through more than one platform) books like this one, check out Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart. Not only is there a whole slew of physical goodies that come with the book (maps, comics, papers with phone numbers on it,)but there is also an interactive application that goes along with the book that you can download. All of the phone numbers and email addresses in the book are functional. You can call the numbers and email the addresses; both activities give the reader even more information on Cathy. It’s kind of like the old choose your own mystery books. You can choose to call the numbers if you want, or not, the story still continues with or without the extra information.