Book: Thirteen Reasons Why

"Thirteen Reasons Why"

Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…

…and what he discovers changes his life forever.

This book burned slow for me. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not a good thing either. You see, if I hadn’t gotten sick, I probably wouldn’t have had the time (and the boredom) to really read this book.

Before you start thinking that I didn’t like the book, let me make it clear: I did. In fact, by the last page, I’m pretty sure I was already loving it. But it didn’t hook me right away. And that’s pretty much my problem with it for the first chapter. And I think I know why.

You see, our main character Clay, he doesn’t want to listen to Hannah’s tapes. As you can see in the book synopsis. He’s afraid of what he’s going to find. And until the point when his interest is piqued enough that he wants to listen to the tapes, we as readers are also of two minds. Do we want to know what’s inside the tapes? But if our vessel, the character who will accompany our journey is as unwilling as Clay, then it’s not going to be a fun ride.

Thankfully, after a number of pages mulling it over, Clay does finally find it in himself to make a decision: to continue listening. If only for fear.

It is this fear that carries us through most of the book. The fear of what Clay will find out about the tapes. And as things worsen for Hannah in her accounts of what happened in her life, of what led to her death, we begin to fear too–to doubt if Clay is such an upstanding character that we’d want to root for in the end.

I must say it was almost a disappointment when he does turn out to be such a character. But it’s not. Because by then, you understand why he had to be one.

Thirteen Reasons Why is not the story of Clay Jensen, but it also is. It’s the story of possibilities that never were, of almosts, of why-nots, of why-nows. It’s the story of a girl, of many girls, of boys, of everyone who had to go through life with so many rejections, so many users, so many untrustworthy people. It’s the story of Hannah Baker. It’s the story of how a person can lose hope in humanity.

And how, even when the right person comes along and says the right words, it might still be too late.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is one of the most powerful books I’ve read about suicide. About the reasons, without saying they are the be-all and end-all. About the aftermath, the blame, the guilt. About the endless questions, the self-doubt.

The book is not claiming to be the be-all and end-all of suicide books. And that’s what makes it more powerful. Because it’s just one thread. It’s just one example. It doesn’t cram it all in. And that makes it more real.

But what makes me love the book isn’t so much the way of writing, the character development, or what-not. It’s the content. It forces you to reevaluate your own relationships. Your own weaknesses. Your own need.

Because sometimes, when you’re trying so hard to be strong for other people, when you’re trying hard to be unaffected, you forget that you can still get hurt too. And sometimes, you only realize you’re beyond repair when you’ve already gone too far.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a book I would recommend to be read by everyone. Of any age. But I think schools, especially high schools, would benefit from having their students read this.

Now, before I completely go off-tangent, I’m signing off with three links to three other reviews, just so you can compare and decide for yourself:
Chick Loves Lit
Chelsea Eats Treats

Book: The Future of Us

"The Future of Us"

It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long–up until last November when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family gets an America Online CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at their profiles fifteen years in the future. Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates–it’s all there. But it’s not what they expected. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right–and wrong–in the present.

What would you do if you had access to information from the future? Mind you, it’s not profitable information–just about what happens to you, fifteen years from now.

That’s what happens to Josh and Emma in The Future of Us. They get access to Facebook and find out how their lives turn out in the future. It’s a promising premise. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was fully utilized by authors Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler.

The thing is, for the most part of the novel, we are not invested in the love story they’re trying to sell. And that’s because they’re not doing a lot of selling in the story to begin with. We’re told that Josh and Emma have deep friendship, and then something happened. We’re told that Josh had feelings for Emma, but he’s sort of moved on. And Emma, for ninety percent of the book, is in love with someone else.

By the time the book ends, you feel as if the writers just wanted it to end. And the worst part is, you know that Josh and Emma will end up together before the story closes. So the lack of development in their relationship is really infuriating.

I think this book would’ve worked better with one perspective–either Emma’s or Josh’s. I’d pick Josh because he’s the more likeable character of the two. Or maybe Emma just became unbearable because Josh is mostly steadfast throughout the whole thing. (What is it with perfect boys in young adult chick literature, anyway?) The point is, the story suffered because we’re following two separate story threads that I think were supposed to meet midway, but didn’t.

Bottom line? I didn’t like the book. So much so that I wish the 1996 versions of the two authors can see the feedback on their novel and rethink the whole thing.

Maybe other people liked it though? Let’s take a look:
S. Krishna’s Books
Write Meg!
Story Snoops
YouTube Review: TheBookTuber