13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
***Fair warning: This will be more of a "compare and contrast" review where I talk about both the Netflix series and the book, as opposed to a strict "book review"***
Hannah Baker has committed suicide. Hannah Baker is dead. She didn't leave a note... what she left was much worse.
Hannah Baker left behind 7 audiotapes, 13 stories about the people that made her life so miserable she thought suicide was the only answer.
Clay Jensen doesn't know why he is on the tapes. He doesn't know what he would have done to Hannah to make her want to kill herself. Clay had admired Hannah Baker since freshman year, and other than one night - he never really had a chance with her.
As he listens to the tapes, he learns the truth about the awful rumors his classmates spread about Hannah and the dark misdeeds that pushed Hannah over the edge. Could Clay have saved her? Could any of them?
I did the one thing you're not supposed to do. I watched the Netflix show before I read the book. And to be completely, totally honest? I liked the show better.
Since I watched the show first, I knew what was going to happen in the story so none of it was a total surprise to me. But strip away what the show created, you find the bones of the story.
Hannah Baker was a troubled girl. Obviously something had happened at her previous school as well - both the show and the book hinted at it, but you never did find out what. But did any of the reasons she gave really add up to enough of a reason for anyone to kill themselves? No, at least not in my opinion. Maybe the author was trying to show that the culmination of all the events would drive anyone over the edge.
In any event, this book for me was more about bullying that suicide prevention - which I know some critics of the show have been quick to point out. In my interpretation, it was a lesson that people should learn that gossip and rumors hurt people - that you should think of the repercussions before you open your mouth. That teens - or people in general - shouldn't hurt each other because you never know what that person is going through. And for that, I thought the writing was beautiful.
What I didn't like was the way it was written, per se. I know it was supposed to flip between the stories Hannah was telling on the tapes and Clay's thoughts and memories as he was listening to them but it felt a little too in someone's head. Does that make sense?
What I think I'm trying to say is that, overall I loved the bones that the story was, but I needed the Netflix show to give me the meat of the story. It felt like so much more happened in the show that made the story even better.
3.75 of 5 Stars!