“’Sir?’ she repeats ‘How soon do you want it to get there?’
I run two fingers, hard, over my left eyebrow. The throbbing has become intense. ‘It doesn’t matter’ I say.
The clerk takes the package. The same shoebox that sat on my porch less than twenty-four hours ago; rewrapped in a brown paper bag, sealed with clear packaging tape, exactly as I had received it. But now addressed with a new name. The next name on Hannah Baker’s list.”
When Clay Jensen picks up a package that’s been left on his porch, he doesn’t know what it contains, he doesn’t know its going to change his life, he doesn’t know he’s not the first to receive this same package and that he will be sending it on after hes listened to whats inside. Inside there are seven tapes, six with two sides to them and one with just side A. 13 sides with Hannah Baker’s voice recorded on them, for Clay to listen to, two weeks after she committed suicide. The tapes record Hannah’s 13 reasons why she killed herself, and Clay’s name is on one of the sides, but why?
I knew this was going to be a powerful book, I’d seen a lot of mixed reviews for it, its one of those which works or doesn’t work depending on what you want from your book and I wanted this, exactly how it was and in all its twisted glory.
Hannah and Clay are the two main characters, in a way they are the only real characters. You only meet Tony and Clay’s mum in the book other than the people mentioned in Hannahs tapes or Clays memories and I loved the way it was told like this. The whole thing is split between Hannah’s tapes and Clays thoughts, with a tiny bit of dialogue between. I loved this and where other people have found this confusing, I thought the two narrative voices were so clear that I never found myself second guessing who’s point I was getting. I found the stop, pause and play buttons a really great addition to the book as well, especially to break away fully from Hannah’s story.
Although the story followed Clay and his reaction to finding the tapes and finding himself in the reasons why Hannah, this girl he felt very strongly for, killed herself, I did feel that Clay’s character was a little shallow. I would have liked to know more about him as a person, not just his crush on Hannah or his valedictorian hope, or his summer job, I wanted to know more and I didn’t get that but I guess with the depth of Hannah as a character that you get more than makes up for it. I was amazed at some of the things on the tape and because of the tapes I could picture Hannah, I knew her as a friend, I knew her thoughts and feelings and her true character… that’s what made this story so special. I wanted it to get to the end and Hannah be magically alive but it didn’t happen and I felt like I had lost a friend, even though she was lost from the start!
I literally couldn’t put this book down. I loved the way it was written and the way it flowed, I read it in three sittings and only then because I had to sleep and go to work! I needed to know Clays part in the story, I needed to know the other reasons why and I think I found most two of the stories mostly shocking and they are the final one, for obvious reasons and Zach Demspey’s story… I hated that story, I couldn’t believe that someone could do something so vindictive even though it seemed so trivial and small.. He made Hannah feel even more alone than she already felt for no reason and I very nearly cried when I was reading that story!
I think Thirteen Reasons Why brings up a lot of very valid points about teenagers and their struggles, about how the smallest, simplest things can have a snowball effect to change the way a person views themselves and how that change of feeling can change their actions. I really think this is a book that needs to be shouted about; it’s a book that teenagers need to read, so they know how their actions can change other people’s lives. I thought the whole book was shocking, and sad, and terrible but it was valid the whole way through and I would recommend it to anyone.
Thirteen Reasons Why was published in 2009 by Penguin in the UK. My copy was loaned to me by Steffi, thank you!