Published On: August 6, 2009 (Originally 2007)
Published By: Penguin Random House
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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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 one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them.
If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
I think I must be one of the last people to read this book. There has been hype surrounding this book since I first got into reading and it was one of the first books I ever read a sample chapter of back when it was first popular. More recently, though, with the success of the TV adaptation, the hype surrounding this book has been so crazy I felt like I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I mean, surely all those people couldn't be wrong, I was obviously going to love this, right? Sadly, not.
I am one of the apparently quite few people who did not love this book. In fact, I really disliked this book. I had heard some negative things in the midst of all the love so I didn't go in with very high expectations, however I was sadly still disappointed.
This book is obviously about the thirteen reasons why Hannah decided to commit suicide. You would think, given that premise, that Hannah would be the kind of character you would feel compassion for and just generally like. Maybe I'm just heartless but I couldn't stand Hannah. She was probably one of the most annoying main characters I have ever read about and I just couldn't bring myself to feel compassion for her. Of course it was horrible that she felt the need to commit suicide, but I really didn't care about all of her problems.
I found Hannah's reasons for committing suicide completely ridiculous. I do feel quite heartless for saying that but it is true. There were a few 'reasons' explained in the tapes that were understandable and I could definitely see where the harm was cause but the majority of them seemed unreasonable. It just seemed to me that the ultimate reason for Hannah committing suicide was 'life is hard sometimes and people can be mean'. I could completely understand horrific bullying reaching such an outcome but I know a lot of people who would wish they were treated the way Hannah was rather than what they are dealing with. Maybe I missed the point but it seemed completely unreasonable to me.
While I understand they are essentially what makes the story what it is, I really did not like the idea of the tapes. These tapes that Hannah was essentially threatening people with beyond the grave, as well as Hannah's suicide in general, seemed almost like revenge. It felt to me like she was trying to get back at all these people for the things they had done to her by committing suicide and making sure they knew their part in it. It was uncomfortable to read about and, in my opinion, provided a very unhealthy representation of suicide and mental illness.
The one redeeming quality of this book for me was Clay. Clay was the only reason I didn't DNF this book. I found him and the way he handled this situation he was thrust into fascinating. I really felt for him throughout the book and thought the way he was so invested in the tapes and following Hannah's story said a lot about him as a character. I highly doubt I would have finished this book if it hadn't been for him.
Overall, I was incredibly disappointed in this book. For still being so popular over 10 years after first publication, I expected the hype surrounding it to be deserved. I definitely did not expect to dislike it as much as I did. Like I said, maybe I just missed the point but this book was most definitely not for me.