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Thirteen Reasons Why
Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker,?his classmate and crush,?who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781595141880
ISBN-10: 159514188X
Publication Date: 10/2/2008
Pages: 304
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 171 ratings
Publisher: Razorbill
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
You can read the book summary elsewhere. I enjoyed the set up of the chapters as places in the cassette tapes, with stop, play, pause, etc. as marking the spots. I enjoyed the concept of the book-instead of a suicide note-a suicide tape. Overall, I did enjoy this book. But, I got annoyed at the main character-Hannah. For a while it seems like she blames these 13 reasons (or people) for her choice to end her life. But then at the end she says she forgives them and realizes she is looking for an excuse to let go, but that she just wanted these people to know that if one thing had changed, she might not have killed herself. The blame issue bothers me, the waiting for help bothers me-but I understand and appreciate the fact that most teenagers would do the same thing. It is a very well written book, I couldn't stop reading it. But I got frustrated. Then again, maybe that frustration is what the author wanted, so people can realize little things can be huge in someone's life. THankfully Hannah never says it was anyone's fault but her own. Somehow that doesn't make the 13 people feel any better..
reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I really, really enjoyed this book. Every page was fascinating. It will really make you think how one, seemingly small, action can trigger a much larger chain of events and impact people in ways you never intended. This book should be required reading in high schools these days, then maybe kids will stop torturing each other so much.
GeniusJen avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 5322 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Reviewed by Me for

I don't often write introductions to my reviews. In fact, the last time I can remember doing so was with the wonderful PUCKER by Melanie Gideon, which I read in 2006. However, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, the debut novel from author Jay Asher, is the type of book that begs an introduction. So if you'd like to skip down to the third paragraph for the "meat" of the story, I won't hold it against you -- but you'll be missing something important.

If you have the chance to only read one novel this year, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY should be that book. It's sad, amazing, heartbreaking, and hopeful, all at the same time. I dare you to read it and not become so immersed in the story that you lose track of time and your surroundings. You'll cry, several times, while reading this story. You'll have no choice but to think about your actions, and wonder what type of effect they have on other people. And, in the end, you might also find the need to say "thank you."

Now, on to the story...

When Clay Jensen finds a package on his front porch, he's excited. A package, for him? With no return address? What could it possibly be? What Clay finds is a shoebox full of cassette tapes, each marked as "Cassette 1: Side A," "Cassette 1: Side B," etc. Of course he rushes to the old radio/cassette player in his dad's garage to check out these mysterious tapes.

And soon wishes, wholeheartedly, that he'd never picked up that stupid package from his front porch.

What he hears when he inserts that first tape is the voice of Hannah Baker. Hannah, the girl he'd crushed on for longer than he could remember. The girl he went to school with. The girl he worked at the movie theater with. The girl who had changed, drastically, in the last several months. Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide.

Clay soon realizes that these tapes aren't just a suicide note, aren't, really, even a clear-cut rendition of why she did what she did. Instead, these are thirteen reasons -- thirteen people, to be exact -- who created a snowball-effect of events that led Hannah to believe that suicide was her only option. But why is Clay on that list? How could he possibly be one of the reasons that she killed herself?

As the day goes on, Clay becomes obsessed with listening to the tapes. And what he hears frightens him, disturbs him, and, in the end, leads him to realizations that he never would have expected. As Clay listens to the role that thirteen people, including himself, led in the ultimate death of Hannah Baker, his view of the world, and himself, changes drastically.

You will love this book, because you won't be able to help yourself. You will feel what Clay feels. You will, in a very strong way, experience the highs and lows of Hannah's life right along with her. And there is nothing, in my opinion, that could speak better for the authenticity of a book. Read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. And then, if you're like me, you'll read it again. And, hopefully, none of us will ever forget it.
jessnoelle07 avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This was a great book. It really intriguied me, I was completely sucked into the book I couldn't put it down. It was very well written. One of those books that will get you thinking. And throughout the book I found myself very sad, I felt like I had come to know this girl.
reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on
Helpful Score: 4
This an amazing book. It's just so suspenseful and I couldn't put it down until I finished. It got the best of me and I even tried to come up with my own thirteen reasons, and I don't know how to explain it, but it captured me for a few days after I finished it. I would (and I did) recommend it to all my friends. Very well written.
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terez93 avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 273 more book reviews
This isn't going to be anything approaching a stellar or profound review, and much has already been said about it, so I probably don't have too much original content to add. I will just provide a few personal comments about the aspects of it which made the greatest impressions as I was reading through it.

In retrospect, I've been reading quite a few books recently, quite unintentionally, which I wouldn't normally read, and this is another example. It seems to be something of a love-it-or-hate-it work of adolescent fiction, but I can see why it's been controversial since its initial publication. I read a fair few more reviews than I normally do, also, as the novel seems to have sparked some extremely strong opinions. I guess I'm one of the few who were somewhat ambivalent about it: it wasn't the horror show some people have described, but it certainly wasn't a work of singular genius, either.

I won't rehash the plot here, as most people reading reviews are familiar with it. That said, I appreciate people's opinions, but I don't agree with the common argument that the novel, and, to an even greater degree, the TV series, in some way "glorifies" suicide. I think the book overall is a decent reflection of adolescent angst, particularly in the statement, "when you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life. Everything... affects everything." When people have limited life experiences, one singular event, let alone a "series of unfortunate events," can seemingly encompass their entire lived experience, to the degree that they often believe that there is nothing outside their immediate circumstances and that they can't expect anything different in the future, which seems disturbingly infinite. As Shakespeare noted, "sorrows come not as single spies, but in battalions." Difficult life circumstances often get the better of everyone, including adults, even highly successful ones. However, young people are, as the novel accurately depicts, clearly more vulnerable, especially to the power of suggestion and mimicry, owing largely to an immature brain and a lack of impulse control. Ideally, as we get older, at least in my own experience, aside from some extraordinary occurrences, there are relatively few occurrences where that rings true.

This novel, and subsequently, the Netflix series, sparked far more controversy than was expected, for what has been termed "suicide contagion." It was a somewhat-talked about novel, but things really blew up when the series was released. In fact, there was even a CNN article as late as 2020 which claimed that "some mental health experts" argued that the show was actually "dangerous" on account of its depictions of suicide. A Children's Hospital study in 2019 actually suggested that the suicide rate among 10-to-17-Y-O boys spiked in the month after the show was released (although a later study suggested that it was little more than a "bump," and could not be attributed solely to a TV show). Another study suggested that this was not actually the case, but that did little to quell the controversy. Other "experts," and I use the term loosely, suggested, without any real evidence, also suggested that the show may have had a greater impact in the incidence of "self harm" among teenage girls, which couldn't be determined on account of a lack of reporting. Correlation vs. Causation seems to be the primary issue here.

Many readers, reviewers among them, really take issue with the main protagonist, Hannah Baker, who leaves behind thirteen cassette recordings, each addressed to a specific person who she claims were a primary reason she chose to kill herself. Many express an instant dislike of her, arguing, perhaps with some merit, that the recordings are an ultimate act of revenge, to inflict as much suffering and guilt on each of the individuals in question as possible, to reiterate that there is no way to make things better, no way to repent, because Hannah is already gone, and nothing can change that. This manipulative and vengeful behavior thus affects other kids - who are kids - possibly affecting them for the remainder of their lives, for seemingly trivial youthful transgressions (aside form the rapists, that is - but the primary figure in question doesn't even get to hear the tapes: they will only affect him and his reputation vicariously, which is, incidentally, what was influenced on Hannah herself).

The book, itself somewhat lackluster, does raise important issues about how to engage the primary audience in discussions about suicide and self-harm, as well as in dealing with very adult issues such as rape and sexual assault, betrayal, drug use, alcohol abuse, and other serious incidents which can affect someone for the rest of their life. I won't go into the differences between the TV show and the novel here, but each raises the issues in different ways. At this point, I'm uncertain whether this work, in its various forms, helps or harms: I suppose that depends on the consumer, but if it at least raises awareness and sparks conversations about these very timely topics, that's probably a good thing.

It's an alternative way for people to engage with the very timely issue of suicide, without really "glorifying" or encouraging it. I remember reading somewhere that it's almost a covert propaganda piece about bullying, which I can definitely see, in some respects. In sum, it's definitely a moralizing tale, in a rather overt way, which will hopefully at least make people think.
jazzysmom avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 907 more book reviews
Wonderful book. I think every child in Jr high and High school should read this. Although it is fiction it deals with why a teen decides to end her life with what feels like reality. Teens could learn a lot from this book.Well written.
susieqmillsacoustics avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 1062 more book reviews
I can understand why there are mixed reviews out there on this book. It is well written and compelling, though. It begins with a high school student (Clay) finding a package on his doorstep containing cassette tapes labeled 1 through 13. The chapters are named with Cassette 1 Side A and Cassette 3 Side B, etc. as each of 13 stories is told by a dead girl (Hannah). The reader experiences her stories leading to her death as Clay experiences them and his thoughts are present along the way. Hannah obviously has mental problems (in my opinion) and constantly seems to see herself as a victim. I felt it was a cruel and petty thing to blame some of these people as I was reading and I feel she would have taken the same path regardless. She spoke of wanting to make a fresh start which led me to believe she had had problems before (not surprising). It is full of teenage angst and the thoughtless things kids do sometimes, but I did not have the sympathy for her that Clay did. He cared about her, though. She had parents who loved her, as well. She just seemed to take everything personally and jump to the worst conclusions about what people were thinking. She had anger issues for sure. In the end she does take responsibility (to a degree) for her own choices, but by then she has certainly laid guilt on these 13 people for not saving her. I did like the book and I do believe there are people like Hannah who spend their lives in a "poor me" mentality. I also felt this was realistic as teenagers are often immature, selfish, and do not always think of the consequences of their actions. I would hope young people like Hannah would seek help and give themselves time to grow up and experience life beyond high school. It is hard to put down and it is a powerful read.
sfc95 avatar reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on + 686 more book reviews
This is a very fast paced, read in one setting book. It is not long and although the subject matter can be considered "deep" the book is not written in a way that it bogs you down. I enjoyed the back and forth of the dialogue through the recorded statements and the thoughts and actions of the boys listening. Where I feel the booked lacked is in getting in the mind of the suicidal girl and in how she chose this boy, who clearly did not belong on the "list" She made some innocent people feel responsible for her act, I am concerned that this book read by a young adult as it is intended opens up the world of survivor's guilt rather than shows the real signs and causes of suicide. Read as fiction it is a great read, read for more therapeutic reasons or as a teaching tool it is not recommended.
reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on
I acknowledge that this book is considered Young Adult but I don't think a YA book should necessarily have less to offer adults. I don't pretend to personally understand what it's like to consider suicide and I've never had to personally deal with it. However, this whole plot rang false, from the central figure's motive for suicide to the people it affected. None of the characters were likable, and I found myself less and less interested in the final outcome. I've read much stronger Young Adult books. Perhaps this would be helpful for teens that are struggling with these issues, but I'm not really sure it would speak to them on any sincere or genuine level.
reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on
Couldn't get into this book. Read a couple chapters before giving up. Hopefully whoever receives my copy in the mail will have better luck!
reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why on
I think this book should be a must read for older middle school and high school students.

It gives an in depth look at why one girl committed suicide and shows that, at least in this case, many things can affect a person's decision to kill themselves.

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