Before committing suicide, Hannah Baker recorded a series of tapes detailing the thirteen reasons for her death. Clay Jensen, one of the many recipients of Hannah’s tapes, must listen to her eerie monologue, learn his role in her death, and pass the tapes along to the next person. Hannah’s haunting words cause Clay to question everything he thought was true, eventually leading him to uncover ugly secretes, and learn the true meaning of consequences.
So, I know there was already a lot of buzz around this book awhile ago, and you may have already read it. If you haven’t yet, you definitely should. It’s certainly one of those books which have been “uber-popular”, and normally I’m under-impressed by said books, but this one lives up to the hype. I loved the unique (and very creepy) set up, with Hannah narrating tapes that tell her reasons for her death. I thought it especially powerful that Clay could easily just throw her tapes away, but, perhaps because Hannah is dead, he listens. That said, I didn’t like the implication that suicide could be used to prove a point. There’s no coming back from death, and the dying won’t solve your problems — it just creates a void where you used to be. I’m not sure that Asher’s book really gets that point across. It doesn’t have to, of course, but I didn’t like the nagging feeling I was left with that Hannah’s suicide was somehow painted as being a solution. It wasn’t.
Aside from my reservations, this is really a great book that makes a lot of important points. It’s not too preachy, and I found Hannah to be extremely relatable. 13 Reasons may not be the best book to pick up if you want a “warm fuzzy” novel, but it will definitely have you up late at night to finish it!
Also, if you’re interested, there is a “13 Reasons Why Project” that allows readers to submit stories about how this book affected them. You can find that page here. 13 Reasons will also be a movie! At some point. I’ll update details as they arrive. Read the book before they make the movie!
*YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2008
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