Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thirteen Reasons Why follows one evening in the life of Clay Jensen, who has just received a box containing a set of cassette tapes from Hannah Baker – his crush and classmate – who died two weeks earlier. The tapes chronicle the thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide, each tape detailing one person who caused, in one way or another, Hannah’s decision to take her own life.
It’s incredibly hard to encapsulate such an amazing, emotionally-charged novel, and properly convey how evocative and powerful it is. The concept and the structure seem flawless, characters three-dimensional. It’s wonderfully written – taking the reader to the verge of tears, evoking anger – but simple, conversational, easy to read. I read it in one sitting – it’s suspenseful, and even though you know Hannah has already died, you’re hoping someone will save her from herself. The style of writing – the script of Hannah’s audio tape interspersed with Clay’s very emotional reactions – is unique and gripping. Thirteen Reasons Why is unputdownable, and Jay Asher, this being his first novel, is an undeniably talented author, who will undoubtedly go on to success, and hopefully even better novels (and I’m also hoping his next book is less depressing).
I loved the way in which Thirteen Reasons Why involved so many people, examined the effect each person, each event had towards one awful thing – it’s impossible not to become emotionally involved – oft frustrating, and you feel like yelling at the characters. The interrelation of events was satisfying. I often dislike young adult fiction offering a moral, a lesson, but in Thirteen Reasons Why I didn’t mind so much. This is a book I believe teenager should read and will definitely gain from – be warned of somewhat harsh themes, so I wouldn’t recommend for anyone under fourteen.
Genre: Young Adult
Recommended Age: 14+
Star Rating: Nine out of ten
In a word: Wow
(Jay Asher has an excellent blog here.)
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