Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

October 12, 2011
By writeon101 BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
writeon101 BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Thirteen Reasons Why

Reviewed by Almaz Nizamov

When I found out that Thirteen Reasons Why was Jay Asher’s first book, I was remarkably astounded. How can a person’s first work be so spectacular and beautiful yet heart-wrenching and eye-opening at the same time? Not to mention, it was a New York Times bestseller for 65 straight weeks. This book isn’t an ordinary teenage drama novel. It combines suspense, confusion, and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. This book teaches the reader that one cannot stop the future or rewind the past.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult realistic fiction book. It focuses on a set of seven audiotapes with thirteen sides recorded by young Hannah Baker, who committed suicide two weeks before the events of this book. When Clay Jensen returns home from school, he finds the box of tapes sitting on his porch. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to take her life, and if you received the tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.
I found this book very captivating because while I was reading it, I heard the intensity of Hannah’s voice in my head. I felt her emotions including anger and sorrow, and, at times, passion and love. Some parts even included sarcastic humor, which, in my opinion, isn’t that easy in a book that deals with teen suicide. Asher’s idea of, more or less, putting a suicide note into thirteen different tapes, and also making the whole thing almost like a game that enforces its rules was beyond clever. In addition, his decision to make Clay the narrator/main character was very wise, since Clay actually had a crush on Hannah. Therefore, throughout the novel, it was interesting to not only find out what the tapes were about, but also see Clay’s internal struggle build as his anxiety to find out what it is he did wrong grew.
Thirteen Reasons Why was one of those books that you couldn’t be interrupted from. Every chapter, every tape, held another story. As I read, I imagined what each character felt like while listening to the tapes. Did they gasp or look around intently, almost as if they saw Hannah’s ghost? Did their heart beat or did sweat form on their forehead and drip down their flushed cheeks? What if the tapes or Hannah’s death didn’t affect them at all and their dreams were pleasant, as usual?
Thirteen Reasons Why is a great book, but I’m not the only one who thinks so. The teen suicide novel won several awards and received numerous positive reviews from editors, other authors, and teen readers. Some of the book’s accolades include International Reading Association’s Young Adults’ Choices finalist, Barnes & Noble’s Top 10 Best for Teens, and Heartland Award for Excellence in YAL (Young Adult Literature).The Chicago Tribune describes Jay Asher’s first novel as “eerie, beautiful, and ultimately devastating.” New York Times quotes “a stealthy hit with staying power… thriller-like pacing.” Many readers are saying that the book saved their lives, and gave them the hope they needed to get to where they are today. Others believe that the novel’s storyline is amazing, suspenseful, mysterious, and has a hint of romance, which I personally agree with.
So, you heard my take on the book. You heard the editors’ and other readers’ opinions. Now it’s time for you to decide whether or not you want to rush to the nearest library to pick up a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why, and begin your riveting journey to reveal what is really behind the masks that those thirteen people wear, and why didn’t they take them off when they had the chance.

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