Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

thirteen reasons whyOoooh, the first time I’ve given a book one star on Goodreads! The first time I’m reviewing a book I didn’t actually enjoy. All firsts for me. I find it easier to write about the books I like, I often feel that if I didn’t like it, why bother? Why bother indeed. I’m bothering because you shouldn’t bother to waste precious life seconds on a book that ultimately does nothing for the soul.

Ok, so the blurb should have been a warning. Posted below, directly from Goodreads.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

It seemed like it might go all Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on me (and man, was I addicted to those – especially the Sad section. Why? Because drama). But I never connected with either Clay or Hannah. I don’t even get the point of the book – there is no redemption, no character movement, nothing to hold onto or sink your teeth into. There’s just…words on pages.

I get that Jay Asher was trying to explore the topic of suicide from a different angle – from After The Event rather than Before, which makes everything feel even more hopeless because you know nothing can save Hannah from the start. I get that he was trying to show the cascading, dominos like events that can lead someone to where Hannah was, but it just didn’t work for me.

Sure, I felt sorry for Hannah in places, but I could never empathise with her, her actions or her thought processes. There was nothing relatable in her. Clay is much the same. The book’s events take place in one night and Clay never becomes more than a cardboard cut out of a character type. His emotions and motives never feel more than surface, more than just words.

Ultimately, it’s a disappointing read. Pass over this one.

For more on my reading list, check my Goodread’s profile.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

  1. This has me hoping that the sophomore offering from this author will be less underwhelming. It’s a good idea, but the worth of an idea is always in the execution, isn’t it…?

    • Exactly! I get the feeling this one might have been too close to home for the author – that he wrote it about his own Hannah. But it just didn’t pull together.

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