Friday, July 3, 2015

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My Rating: 1.5 stars

There is a lot of controversy surrounding this book. Some of my friends love it. Some of my friends want to crush this book into a million pieces and burn it.

Thirteen Reasons Why is about a teenage boy named Clay who receives a few cassette tapes on his porch one day. When he listens to them, he realizes that they are from Hannah, his crush who committed suicide a few weeks ago. Hannah lists thirteen reasons why she killed herself and Clay is among them. Some of his classmates are on the list as well. And as Clay listens to Hannah tell her story, he finds himself completely altered by her tale.

That is basically the summary from Amazon.

I read Thirteen Reasons Why three years ago. To a twelve year old who believes that anything with deep words and death is a good book, Thirteen Reasons Why is an amazing story. To twelve year old me, it was a tale that spoke to the hardships teens go through and how it affected one girl. I was bewitched by the awesome title--so deep!--and the gorgeous cover. I told all my friends how great this book was, how much it impacted me.

Then a few days ago, I saw this book in the library and decided to read it again. You know, in order to bring back some good feelings and have a good cry because it is a sad book. After I got through the first chapters, I felt like spearing Hannah in the stomach with a lance and throwing her off a cliff.

There are many days when I feel sad and blue. Days when I feel like the world is ending when my friend insults me or I trip and rip a gash in my wrist. There are bad days for everyone. That is basically what happened to Hannah: a bad day. But do you kill yourself because of a bad fall?

The reasons Hannah gave for killing herself are not the reasons for teens to kill themselves. I recently read a one-star review that pointed out this exactly: that teenagers would not commit suicide because of this. While it sucks that some bad things happened to Hannah, it should not be enough to cause her to kill herself. Though this may earn me some dirty looks and wide-eyed glances, I feel that this is something I must say.

I also disliked Jay Asher's writing style. It was an interesting idea to have Hannah speak through her cassette tape but it was way too confusing. I had no idea when Hannah's voice was talking or when Clay did something. The entire book was a mess and I didn't understand why twelve year old me had loved it so much. Speaking of Asher's writing style, Hannah was not someone I sympathized with. I am sure Asher was trying to paint her into an innocent, broken girl who was hit too many times by the cruelty of others. That did not happen.

The people that Hannah put on the list did not really do anything to her. For example, there is this one guy who cheated on her (he kissed someone else, I think) and Hannah put him on the list. Some other person was mean to her and boom, he was on the list as well. And Clay, the guy who liked her, who didn't even do anything cruel to her...he was on the list as well. Really?

I don't know how many times I can emphasize this: THESE ARE NOT GOOD REASONS FOR A TEEN TO KILL THEMSELVES. I have been cheated on, ditched, bullied at points in my life and while I felt down and sad, anger always pushed me back to my feet again. Smack the boy a few times on the cheek and get back up, girl! Another thing that made me mad was that her "tormentors" didn't even mean to do anything to hurt her. The boy who kissed another girl? He was just being a guy and a dick. The person who was mean to her? He wasn't trying to hurt her feelings. These tapes were not fair to the people she was mailing them to or Clay. I would understand if she was being bullied or pushed around for years or a long period of time but that wasn't it. It was just small things like a crush kissing someone else or a guy calling you fat one time.

This is life, Hannah. Life sucks and people are sometimes mean and insensitive but that doesn't mean you should end your own life because of them. There are bright patches and it sucked that she just couldn't see them.

It would make sense if Hannah had a condition or was mentally unstable. In that case, if the people who "tormented" her had known that and still acted rudely towards her, it would've been on them. But Asher did not portray her as such. She sounded like a normal girl--like you and me--but just whinier. No mental disabilities. No anxiety disorders. She wasn't even that sky. She was just...whiny.

The portrayal of Hannah throughout the whole book made me see her as an incredibly shallow, overly sensitive girl. These cassette tapes that supposedly taught its viewers her life story? They sounded like guilt trips. Every thing that Hannah went over a bump in the road, she blamed it on those people. Did she ever stop to think that her sending these cassette tapes to people might cause them to blame themselves for something that they had no part in? That they never meant to accidentally say something mean? That you yourself may scar others for life because of your selfish need to get revenge on people who did nothing to you in the first place? Hannah killed herself supposedly because of people's cruelty but isn't she hurting others by sending out these tapes? Such a f*cking hypocrite.

I hated this book. God, you know that 1.5 star was really hard to decide on because half of me wanted to dive into the book, bring Hannah back and throttle her myself. She caused nothing but drama and pain for the people she sent the tapes to and the book wasn't even realistic. I gave it an extra 0.5 star because my best friend loves it. Nothing more.

OH and SPEAKING OF REALISTIC. The guidance counselor. In the middle of the book, Hannah goes to the guidance counselor as one last shot to save herself. She is hesitant and tries to talk to the counselor about her wanting to commit suicide. Now the counselor knows that something is up with Hannah but because she isn't forthcoming with it, he dismisses her. What the f*ck?? Who the f*ck would let a girl contemplating killing herself walk away without helping them. Hannah talks about how she walks away slowly in order to give the counselor another chance to help her. He doesn't.

If Jay Asher is trying to show how crappy and stupid people are, he's done a wonderful job. But the guidance counselor? It's a step too far. In a realistic novel, I am sure no guidance counselor would ever refuse to help a student, inept or not.

This book is a cold, horrible and so unrealistic. It is like fantasy but even fantasy is better than this piece of sh*t.

However, like I've said before, lots of controversy. If anything of you guys like this book, let me know. Explain to me. Maybe I'm being a little too harsh on what is, at its highest point, a mediocre book.


Jay Asher has worked at an independent bookstore, an outlet bookstore, a chain bookstore, and two public libraries. He hopes, someday, to work for a used bookstore. When he is not writing, Jay plays guitar and goes camping. Thirteen Reasons Why is his first published novel.

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