Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

I enjoyed this, for all that it was very sad for a multitude of reasons.


I was not, however, really a fan of Hannah.


I felt terrible for her, of course. Some of the stuff people did to her was horrible, but some of it was the sort of everyday horrible stuff that happens in high school. One of the strengths of the book was putting into perspective how much that sort of stuff, the stuff that some people (many people--probably most people) take for granted as just part of life can have a serious impact on others.


But the whole tape thing was kind of crazy and mean.


This is especially true since, although like I said, some of these things were bad things to do to another person, blaming individuals for your suicide and then forcing them to listen in excruciating detail to you explaining how they wronged you for fear of having said details publicly exposed is also kind of a bad thing to do to another person. Some of these people should perhaps have been publicly shamed

(the rapist and the peeping tom, for example)

(show spoiler)

or at least had people warned against them--some of the stuff she experiences or sees is extreme and illegal and awful and other people probably should hear about it.



But some of the others were just horrible. In particular, Jessica, whose major crime is kind of growing away from a friendship. Not only does she get blamed for Hannah's suicide, she

gets to hear about her own rape in excruciating detail,

(show spoiler)

armed with the knowledge that this tape is passing and has passed through quite a few other hands and that her former friend Hannah is right there

while she is being raped

(show spoiler)

and does nothing about it, either during or after.



Suicide is one thing, and I refuse to weigh in on the whole "is it selfish or not" argument, but this? Recording tapes and then making sure they were sent on to tell a bunch of high schoolers that it was their fault that you committed suicide and they should feel really guilty about causing your death? That is absolutely selfish. She's not confronting them with what they did while she is alive, she is torturing them from beyond the grave, sometimes for minor at best offenses.


Sorry for the whining; the whole idea that this is what someone who is apparently so depressed she wants to commit suicide wants to do with her last days (and the idea that someone that suicidally depressed is capable of setting up this entire thing, given severe depression quite often comes with a severe lack of ability to do anything, trust me), is kind of awful.


Now we will move on to what I actually do like about this novel.


I enjoyed the back-and-forth between the two main characters (even if one is dead when it starts) and the entire set-up of the novel. The tapes, while I disagree with the idea behind them, were fascinating listening, and it was interesting to be able to get inside Hannah's head. I do think the book does an excellent job of setting up and supporting the idea that the little things you do to hurt other people can have a lasting effect long past the point where you realize they would, and that you should take more care with your actions.


Clay was a little bit boring, but having an outside perspective on a character that ends up committing suicide was interesting. Being inside the head of someone depressed enough to do that is one thing; watching from the outside as well made for fascinating reading. I liked the list and how everyone tied together in some kind of way, even when it was unexpected. I have always loved that sort of thing, when characters that seem to be unconnected end up connecting in new and interesting ways.


In the end, I'm glad I read this, but I won't be re-reading it. It was an interesting novel that made a few good points, but I'm a little iffy on Hannah's reasoning behind many of her actions, and that makes it harder to feel the kind of sadness I feel like I ought to. Perhaps it is more realistic this way, but realism that gets in the way of a feeling of catharsis at the end of the story tends to be too much realism for me.