13 Reasons Why- Book Review

Jay Asher did an outstanding job in his debut young adult fiction, bringing out the bitter reality of the society- teenage suicides. Mind you, the book was published in 2007, when this issue was treated as a subject which was not to be talked about in public. Jay has depicted an honest view of depression, grief, harassment and other such issues that are faced by most teenagers in today’s time.

Clay Jensen, on one afternoon finds a package with no return address , a package of 7 cassettes, each marked from 1 to 13 with the last side left blank. He listens to them in his garage and to his horror he finds out that they are from the girl from his school who died two weeks earlier.

The girl in question is Hannah Baker who committed suicide by taking some unidentified pills. She herself recorded those tapes and in each side she narrated the incidents that happened with her giving 13 reasons(Clay being one of them) that led her to take the decision of taking her own life. With those tapes she gave out specific instuctions- that for each tape clay had to follow the map that she had provided where the incidents took place and after finishing, they had to be passed onto the next person.

“Everything…affects everything”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

The book written in Clay’s perspective is all about the aftermath or the consequences of Hannah’s suicide. The reasons she has mentioned are the things that everyone at some point in their school life experience.

The story is engrossing and full of suspense. It was so compelling that i finished reading it in almost one day.
I liked the book but i cant really say i loved it to the extent to make me want to read it again. (or to watch the series)
People around me who have watched the series are calling ‘hannah’ as the victim and are sympathysing with her but i can’t. The plot is no doubt unique but i found it was more along the line of a mockery. She wanted to get back to people who treated her unfairly by taking her own life. She wanted some of her classmates to feel guilty for the rest of their lives for not giving her the attention she thought she deserved when they were teenagers. This is some serious next level of bullying.

I am not of the view that the reasons she had were not serious enough to take such a grave step. Neither am i questioning her state of mind. I am just not in favor of getting back to the people who were also trying to get through the high school just like she was.

School is tough, sure. We are in the process of finding new things about ourselves during all those years. Friends are changing constantly, there is a pressure to ‘fit in’, the puberty is taking over, the hormones are hitting. Its a tough time for everyone and everyone deals with it differently. We cant control what is coming our way but we have a say in how we respond to it. In my view, Hannah’s way to deal with it was by blaming others which convinced her that she was the ‘victim’.

“I’m listening to someone give up. Someone I knew—someone I liked. I’m listening… but still, I’m too late.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Plot as on the back cover –

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.

The book is worth a read if you like suspenseful stories. The writing style is very clean and interesting.The subject of the book – suicide is a controversial topic. So everyone will interpret the story in a different way.
Over all, i loved the creativity of Jay Asher in the form of this book.

My rating – 3/5

Have you read the book or watched the series yet? Let me know your views in the comments section. Did you find the differences between the book and the series here?

Komal has started recording the incidents where people wronged her. Did you just eat a fry from my plate? Welcome to my tape!

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