Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Published: October 18th, 2007

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. [From Goodreads]


You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.


This book was supposed to resonate with me. It was supposed to keep my eyes glued to the page, sometimes with plain interest, others with plain horror.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

Thirteen Reasons Why is an immensely deep book that relies heavily on its characters and their problems, as any book revolving around a suicide must. Though I found myself intrigued by Hannah’s tapes and her story, my interest steadily decreased as the story went on. Hannah lacked the qualities I look for – the qualities I sympathize with. Of course, I felt sorry that she died. I felt sorry that she found dying a suitable answer to her problems. Feeling sorry doesn’t require a real connection. I can feel sorry for someone whose sad story is mentioned briefly in a newspaper article as cold, hard facts. What I was hoping to find in Hannah was someone I really cared for, and I didn’t. The narrator, Clay, liked Hannah a lot, and I could never find a reason to like her even half as much. I feel kind of guilty admitting I didn’t like the girl who committed suicide, but she simply wasn’t interesting. Perhaps she would have been had she been real, but whatever bit of her I saw in this book did not portray that well enough, in my opinion.

I did find her sarcastic comments entertaining as she relayed her stories, but her stories failed to wow me, too. I realize that it was the combination of these stories and many others that drove her to her fatal decision, but those others must have been heart-wrenchers, because these just didn’t cut it. Much of the time, I was irritated by her. Why on earth was she being so vague? She obviously felt as though people should have helped her, but she never really reached out. And if you get me started on the last tape, you’ll regret it…

Anyway, that’s not to say I hated her or anything. As I said, I certainly felt sorry for her and regretted her choice, but I didn’t feel the same terror and grief that Clay did as he cried/threw up/etc. What made me saddest, probably, were the low standards of some of the people mentioned in the tapes and the fact that Clay had to suffer through them.

Clay was a genuinely nice guy, and I can find no real fault with him. His character is revealed through his reactions to the tapes, and I found myself liking him a good deal. He’s sweet, thoughtful, and simply good. It’s easy to respect and appreciate people like him. I also appreciate that Jay Asher avoided making him nauseatingly perfect.

Jay Asher intended this book to read like a suspense novel, and it did. Though I was pretty disappointed from tape one, I kept reading and finished this book quickly. My curiosity was piqued sufficiently, and I wanted to wrap my head around what had caused this obviously intelligent girl to commit suicide. Thirteen Reasons Why, though not perfect, is definitely a page-turner.

I’d love to say that I loved it, but I apparently didn’t. The essential connection between myself and the characters was lacking. I couldn’t see past the text on the page into the story. It just felt a tad… dry. However, I understand that many have adored this book and perhaps have found solace in its pages, so I do encourage people to read it. It’s full of messages that are invaluable, particularly the importance of considering how our words, actions, and even thoughts affect those around us.

4 Commentsto “Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; Review”

  1. sooo. i own this book, and i want to like so bad, but for some reason i have a feeling i probably won't. which really saddens me, but oh well. i'll just have to read it soon., i guess. *glares at huge TBR pile*

    great review as always, maddie! (can i call you that :D?)

  2. I didn't understand why Hannah would blame others for her suicide when she was looking for reasons to die anyways. I know that sounds mean, but that's how I saw it. But I really loved Clay, though.

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