Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Hardcover, 304 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
October 2007
You can't stop the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret to press play.
Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town...
...and what he discovers changes his life forever.

Clay Jensen's first love records her last words. 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 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 first-hand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Like many good books this one brings you in with a prologue that takes place later on in the story. This book is different from all others being that it really doesn't have chapters, instead, each "chapter" is labeled as a cassette tape number and side A or B. Which means if you use that to decipher how many chapters are in this book then you would have roughly 15 chapters for 288 pages.
I have to say this book had me from page one. Although it take a bit for me to actually get to where I didn't want to put it down. It wasn't because the story just wasn't there yet it was because the writing style chose for this specific story, which will be discussed more in the Author section of this post. When you are reading this book you really get a feel for Hannah and Clay. I liked being able to become shocked about something that was just said to have happened when Clay became shocked. This is a story about a girl discussing why she committed suicide through tapes she recorded before hand. What I liked about it was the fact that during the course of the story Jay Asher has Hannah point out the warning signs that were there.
Suicide is a touchy topic but it happens out there in the world. I really loved how it was tackled in this book. How it showed the snowball effect leading up to the actually suicide. It wasn't just a cheesy book about a girl who didn't get what she wanted in life so she killed herself. It was more heartfelt than that; that is something I enjoyed. The story wasn't just depressing it had some happy times mentioned.
I probably won't say this on many of my post but I can say it honestly here and mean it, this is a story that I could see one day becoming part of a reading assignment in middle/high school. It may be fictional but it still grasps the concept of a real life situation and makes it seem more to be like you were the one hearing someone you know's recorded last words.
It's written in a dual viewpoint that I have never read before. You have Hannah's recorded voice written in italics and Clay's thoughts/actions/conversations written in regular print. As Hannah's voice is telling her stories it will switch to Clay's viewpoint. It is as if you were the person listening to the tapes what you think as you listening. To help make this clearly I will include a brief excerpt to show how the book is written. Remember Hannah is italics and Clay is not:

"As Hannah speaks through the dusty speakers, I feel the weight of my backpack pressing against my leg. Inside, crushed somewhere at that the bottom is her map.
Or maybe I will. I'm not actually sure how this whole dead thing works. Who knows, maybe I'm standing behind you right now.
I lean forward, propping my elbows on the workbench. I let my face fall into my hands and I slide my fingers back into my unexpectedly damp hair.
I'm sorry that wasn't fair.
Ready, Mr. Foley?"

I do look forward to reading more of Jay Asher's books that may come in the future. With how well he handled writing a fictional book on suicide I am truly interested to see him tackle other touchy topics.
Thirteen Reasons Why interactive website<-I would suggest not going to the website until you are either reading the book or have read it.

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