Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Despite the heavy topic, this was a fun read. The story follows Clay on a night-long adventure as he uncovers why Hannah killed herself, via the tapes she left behind. Right from the beginning, this was a unique and original idea, which made a really nice story. I love the simple message of this book, and how easily it can be understood by reading it.

Switching between Hannah’s narrative and Clay’s responses to them, the writing was a bit jumpy, but rightfully so. The storytelling was done so well in this book. From beginning to end, everything tied in to create Hannah’s story. The way all the characters related, their lives interwoven, was really nice to read.

I found Clay to be a bit bland as a character. Not much was explained about him; he was simply the “good guy” stereotype. This could be both a good and bad thing. On the plus side, it is easy to slip into his shoes. However, that also made him a somewhat disposable character. I can see why he was chosen to tell the story, because he is an unbiased “good guy”, that would allow Hannah’s story to be told without much interruption. While that was nice, and I enjoyed how Hannah’s story really shined through, just imagine how much more amazing this book would have been if it was told through one of the other characters that Hannah mentions in the tapes. It would give the book so much more emotion, I feel, than Clay’s character was able to.

As I said, Hannah, and her story, really was the focal point of this story, and I absolutely loved it. I loved her way of speaking, I loved her as a person. Her character was portrayed really well, making me want to befriend her. Because of this, I felt a stronger connection to her, and really felt for her when the bad things in her life started happening. I sympathized with her a lot, and even though I knew what the ending would be, I still didn’t want it to happen. While their personalities were clear, there was barely any back story to either of the characters. I would have liked to learn more about Hannah’s past, before things got bad. That would have only added to the story and the emotion.

I loved how the two plots conformed to one, as Clay is listening to the tapes at night, following Hannah’s life as he lives his own. Hannah’s story was much stronger, but there were some really sweet little pieces of Clay’s life that peaked through. I really loved the tiny incorporation of The Cather in the Rye into the story. Just prior to its addition, I thought about how Clay and the plot reminded me of it (in the best way, of course). Minus Holden’s bull-headedness, Clay was quite similar to him. Also, I’m a sucker for plots that take place in just a single night.

I have mixed feelings about the ending. One part of me really appreciates how Clay took Hannah’s suicide, and decided to make the best of it, by changing his ways. While another part of me kind of cringes at the fact that Clay now thinks he can save girls’ lives with his “good guy”-ness. Yes, he has the ability to help, but depression is something much more serious than it is portrayed in Clay’s eyes. And I hope that those who read this book will recognize that.

Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed reading this book. It is definitely one I will reread in the future, and I recommend, especially to the young people that this book is written for. It’s really important for kids, and everyone, to realize that how you treat others truly can affect them.

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