Thirteen Reasons Why opens with Clay Jensen struggling to get the vision of a dead schoolmate off his head. A debate rises inside him but for all his good intent still comes useless. Hannah Baker is dead and the people that surround them are the reason why.
Now he is tasked to pass seven tapes to the next culprit. If he doesn’t more people will know and the thirteen reasons of Hannah’s suicide might get into deeper trouble, than they already are.
Perhaps, for some of those who have read this novel, it can come across as shallow and self absorbed, especially if it involves a teenage girl taking her own life because of reputation. Yet sometimes, it depends on where a false reputation takes you and how it can make you feel about yourself. That’s our heroine’s dilemma; a dilemma that ultimately justifies – at least for her – her death.
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
This best selling novel discusses about suicide narrated via cassette tapes to a teenage boy that according to the protagonist, are one of the reasons why. It exposes the dark lives teens lead while finding their place in the world. It talks about rape, teenage drinking, rumours, voyeurism and sexism; things that we consider taboo for very young people but are now fast becoming an open fact. This conceivably puts the movie Mean Girls to a heightened level; an intensity that shaves off all the pun and comedic effect.
On top of the external reasons that will lead the heroine to killing herself, we also get to observe the murky resolutions of revenge. The genre might be young adult but it definitely talks about mature issues that bring a remorseful account of silent sufferings.
As for me, I did enjoy Thirteen Reasons Why. It came with a fresh approach and the distinct gnawing need to know why it ended the way it did. I liked that even though I am reading it, it felt like I am pressing the buttons of an old walkman. Narrated via Clay’s minds eye, it allows readers to take his place as it moves along. There will probably be some comments about how shallow it was for Hannah to commit suicide, but this is the reality of our current social and psychological state of young adults. Somehow, if we open our eyes it will transcend as relative and entirely the opposite of immature.
Written By first time author Jay Asher