Author: Jay Asher
No. of pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult, mental health
Year of publication: 2007
Date read: 5 July 2017
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 to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life… forever.
Okay, what to say about this book without either spoiling too much, or comparing it too much with the Netflix series … Let’s just start with my first thoughts. I found the writing style to be quite confusing at the start. You read the story from Clay’s POV, while he listens to the tapes left behind by Hannah Baker after her suicide. What Hannah says on these tapes, what you get to read in italics, gets often interrupted by Clay’s thoughts, in normal font. Because of this I often mixed up Hannah’s and Clay’s thoughts and sayings. But after I got into it, it read really easily and this way of telling actually added speed to the story.
Because, in contrast to the series, Clay listens to all of the thirteen stories on the tapes in only one night, I actually wanted to finish the book in one sitting. And I was able to do so, if it weren’t for my massive headache … Still, I think this is such an important story for people who don’t (seem to) understand what it feels like to be depressed. No, one doesn’t have to wear black all the time in order to be depressed. No, one doesn’t have to act depressed all the time in order to be depressed. In my experience, people who are depressed are really good at hiding this for the rest of the world, which makes it really hard for the people surrounding them to offer help and possible solutions. Sometimes, people who are depressed don’t even call it a depression themselves.
Okay, I’m going to compare it a bit with the Netflix series anyway. There were some minor differences between the series and the book (for example, the amount of time that Clay takes to listen to the tapes, Hannah’s way of committing suicide, and in a way, also Bryce’s horrific part in the story), and because of these differences the series was WAY more dramatic than the book. This makes it that I liked the series much better. I’ve watched it twice, once with Pieter and once with my little sister, and I cried both times. Like, really cried: tears were rolling down my cheeks and there was a big lump in my throat. The book didn’t really touch me in the way that the series did.
Still, I loved the book. I think Asher put so much thought into his story. Everything fits, and the events explain the snowball/butterfly effect so perfectly. Because, what seems like a minor thing to one person, can add to another’s problem and even be the final drop which causes the bucket to overflow. This doesn’t mean that I’m blaming ANYONE for Hannah’s suicide, because it’s no one’s fault. Yes, people were absolute dicks and mean, but, in my honest opinion, you can’t blame a person for someone else’s suicide. In the end, it really was their own choice. I think that’s something that could’ve been a bit more stressed in the story. Once again: I’m not trying to explain away acts like being mean or even horrific things like rape. I was utterly horrified by reading about the repulsive Bryce Walker.
If you’re experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, please. Please, ask/seek for help. There are still people out there who care, even though you might think otherwise. These are words from someone who has been there herself. Trust me. There are still good people in this sometimes pretty f’ed up world. And I’m sorry if I somehow hurt people with my review and thoughts. If I did, please let me know.