Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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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.

I could very easily say I hated this book – but I won’t. I can’t say I hated it. However, I will admit that it made me very angry, because it all felt so wrong to me.

I ranted a lot while reading this book – as everyone who has talked to me recently will know! I will admit I was wrong on one part though. I felt like this book doesn’t depict feeling suicidal very well – but people who have been through similar situations to Hannah said they felt like they related to her thoughts and feelings. So for that, I will say I was wrong. And the fact this book helped and related to people is an amazing thing.

Now onto my rant! I didn’t hate this book – but disliked it enough to list 13 reasons why I disliked it! Before I start, I have two notices.

  1. This post is kind of inspired by this post by Emma Reads!
  2. Please understand this is my personal opinion. I am not trying to start an argument or offend anyone! If you loved this book, I’d just avoid the rest of my review.

13 Reasons Why I Didn’t Like Thirteen Reasons Why

#1 – The melodramatic person that is Hannah Baker

Okay, I will admit I did find this different as I carried on – and towards the end I kind of started to understand a little more. But some of the little things that happened just seem so petty to me. But it might be wrong of me to criticise that – I know little things can affect me badly and I know it can be awful for people who go through that over and over again.

#2 – What she did to poor Clay

Yes, some of these people maybe did deserve what Hannah did *cough* Bryce *cough*, but not all of them. I don’t think even most of them would have deserved something as bad as what Hannah did – but Clay is definitely didn’t. He felt like it was his fault – even though Hannah says it isn’t – and yet she still put him on the tapes. She still made the poor guy, who was just too shy and too scared to make a move…and put him through all that.

#3 – Other teenagers feel like sh*t too!

A very important thing here. I’m pretty sure that at some point, teenagers have a low point (or more, or even many). We’re all vulnerable, emotional and have a lot going on. IT’S NOT JUST YOU, HANNAH.

#4 – Triggers

I know the adaptation of this book has given people panic attacks. I know it has trigger warnings, and that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t stop people watching it. It doesn’t stop people (even kids who are watching it because their friends watched it) seeing these graphic, awful images and having panic attacks because of it.

#5 – She doesn’t help herself

I know a lot of people find it hard (and scary) to get help. I totally understand that. But I just wish she had gone for help earlier. I wish it had been portrayed in a better light, and she had realised that poor Mr Porter just wanted to help.

#6 – People may care, but they don’t always notice

Hannah constantly blamed other people for not realising how she’s feeling. Ever occurred to you that having your hair cut doesn’t show that? That giving away a bicycle might just show that you’re a nice person?

Also, all teenagers have troubles. A lot of them are completely and utterly wrapped up in that. But it doesn’t mean they don’t care. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to help.

#7 – “I’m f*cked up, so I’ll just f*ck everyone else up too”

It’s obvious that Hannah feels like she’s been screwed over by everyone in some way – but her way of dealing with it is making other people feel the same way. Making other people feel like it’s their fault for your death. Putting it bluntly – how screwed up does that sound?

I’m not saying they don’t deserve it. Some of them maybe do…but then there’s others, who maybe were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just don’t feel like they deserve that.

#8 – Suicide is not an adventure. It is the end of an adventure

I hate the way suicide is shown in this book. At all. The whole cassettes and map thing makes it look like a twisted kind of treasure hunt. Real life just doesn’t work like that. It’s not a game, but I feel like the way it is connected to a kind of hunt isn’t a good thing.

#9 – There are two – or thirteen – sides to everything

Yes, I’ll admit that Hannah went through some tough sh*t. She didn’t deserve any of it. But what about Mr Porter, for example? He might not have been able to chase after her because he could have been fired. It might have looked wrong. He tried everything to try and help her, and he got pushed away.

#10 – So much blame

Sometimes, everyone has to accept they did something wrong. They could have asked for help. And I know this is a hard thing to get around, but sometimes life just happens and you can’t always control it. Hannah didn’t only put blame on other people, but she put blame on herself.

#11 – Where the f*ck are the parents?!

I like that this book is about how people do care, even when you don’t think they do. But I hate the fact that the parents are hardly mentioned at all! I’m sure they played a big part in Hannah’s life, and I wish I knew how they missed her. I wish Jay had shown us that your parents would find it hardest to heal. He missed such an opportunity there.

#12 – Get help.

As I said above, I know it’s hard to get to help – but this book puts the counselor in a bad light. It puts asking for help in a bad light, and that is something I think YA books about mental health should never do.

#13 – SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER

I might be wrong, but I felt like this book almost recommended suicide as the answer. Instead of asking for help or telling people that you feel down or even suicidal, ending it all is the easiest way. I understand some people feel that way – but I feel like this book could have shown a much better message. It could have discouraged suicide. Hannah could have found help, and it could have shown that help is available. That help is right.

So after all that, let’s end on a good note. First of all, well done if you managed to get through all that. Anyway, the good note is:

  • I do think this book gave one good message. The fact that it did make me think about how actions can have an influence on people, and their mental health. It did make me think about my own actions. I just don’t think that message was portrayed in the right way.

I give this book….

★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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15 thoughts on “Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  1. I don’t know why I’m saying this now but I love you so much, Beth! This post was really good, LOVED IT! You got your point across brilliantly, Well Done! I actually want to the read the book now…lol. Also for a second when I started to read this post…I thought you were talking about me. Hahahaha!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, here’s some I’ve rated 5 stars:

      Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
      Caraval by Stephanie Garber
      Geekerealla by Ashley Poston
      Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
      You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
      When We Collided by Emery Lord
      Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (and her other books!)
      I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
      The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
      Seed by Lisa Heathfield

      Those are a few! Check out my Goodreads for other reviews 🙂 https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/46170220?page=2&shelf=read&utm_campaign=mybooksnav&utm_content=mybooks_cta&utm_medium=web&utm_source=homepage

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh.
    Jennifer Niven is a personal favourite. I will read anything that woman writes.
    I’ve read Caraval and literally cannot wait for the next book. The first one ended at a cliffhanger which had me in agony.
    When We Collided was also amazing.
    I’ll Give You The Sun broke my heart.
    Not the biggest fan of Rainbow Rowell. I’ve read Eleanor And Park and didn’t really like the insta-love concept.
    I’ll be sure to check out the rest of the books though!
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! I totally agree about Jennifer Niven, Caraval, When We Collided & I’ll Give You the Sun 🙂
      Ah, I kind of get you. But maybe you’ll like the other books more!
      You’re welcome 🙂

      Like

  3. I FELT THE EXACT SAME WAY!!! I did a similar thing with a review about the book ages ago- cos I had thirteen reasons for hating this too!! I hated Hannah Baker. And yes, she didn’t have to send cassettes to Clay and make him feel bad. And yes, I *despised* the fact that her whole reason for suicide revolved around blaming others- it’s especially terrible because so many people feel guilt if someone commits suicide- this is so unhelpful for people going through that kind of grief. Awesome review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I 100% agree! This book just makes me furious. And, your point, “suicide is not an adventure, it’s the end of an adventure,” is essential for kids to understand. When you are dead, you are DONE. I do not do negative reviews but for this book I almost made an exception (and arguable this post is a negative review) This post is fantastic. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for such a lovely and supportive comment! I was a little scared to put this out there, but it reassures me I did the right thing when I get people saying things like that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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