Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

As you probably know by now, I prefer reading a book before I watch an adaptation (whether movie, book, or, rarely, anime) of the story. So when few months ago I realized Netflix was adapting Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher into a mini-series, I resolved to finally read this book. I'd been wanting to read it for some time (probably ever since I heard all the buzz for it when it came out), but it was never high on my priority list. After watching the trailer for the show (and seeing all of Mary Weber's praise for the book), I checked the book out from the library.

I know, I'm being so clever with this picture. 

Synopsis

After Hannah Baker commits suicide, Clay receives a package that contains cassette tapes that detail thirteen reasons why she killed herself. And if you receive the tapes, you're one of the reasons. 

My Thoughts

I read Thirteen Reasons Why in one day, which doesn't often happen, especially since I worked most of that day. But once I started reading, I couldn't stop. I had to find out what had happened to Hannah and why Clay (who is an adorable sweetheart) was on the tapes. The mystery was intriguing, and the way the story is told through the dual-narrative was unique and mesmerizing.

This book has affected a lot of lives, or so I've read online. (Jay Asher has a website where you can submit how it changed your life or read other people's testimonies.) And I can see why. This book has power to it. It deals with a lot of hard issues, mainly suicide but not limited to just that. It discusses rape, gossip and spreading rumors, stalking, teen relationships, consent, under-age drinking, and more. It doesn't shy away from addressing these issues or the effects they can have on teens. Overall, this book can be dark and depressing as it navigates these topics, but the ending left me with a sense of hope. That ending gave the book purpose, and it encourages every reader to do more in thinking about the effect their words and actions can have on other people.

The only aspect I wasn't too keen on was the so-called "teenage angst." I know that a lot the events in this book can take place in real life, but a lot of it felt over-the-top and sometimes over dramatic. (This is why I don't usually read contemporary YA.) All I can say is this is one messed up town of high school students. I grew up in public school and I never experienced most of these things. I wasn't a very outgoing person or involved with the core group of kids, but I still can't see all of these events happening to one person. (I mean, do people really do things like this on the weekend? Do their parents let them do these things? I don't know, man.) But I'm forgiving that because of the book's other merits.

Overall, Thirteen Reasons Why is a compelling take on suicide and how it affects more than just the person who commits suicide. The mystery aspect of the book kept me intrigued. I think most teens who can handle these topics would be the best choice to read this book, but I know that other people may enjoy it as well. It does deal with heavy topics, though, so I would keep that in mind when deciding if you should read the book or even watch the show.

Now I look forward to watching the Netflix adaption and reading more books by Jay Asher!

Have you read Thirteen Reasons Why? What did you think of the book or the Netflix show?

I checked out Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher from my local library and chose to write a review of my own free will. All opinions are my own.

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