Friday, October 16, 2009

Jay Asher's Th1rteen R3asons Why

“WARNING: This book review’s mediocrity has been linked to suicide. Reader discretion is advised. With this in mind, continue, if you dare.” It’s a pitiable day when a teenager can write something like that at the top of a book review for the sheer comedy relief, especially when the teenager behaves as a model adult would. The day becomes even sadder when the reader realizes that the statement is a pun. The book, Th1rteen R3asons Why, tells the story of Clay Jenson, and his role in the suicide of a young woman named Hannah Baker. The manuscript details all of the contributions to her decision in the form of audio tapes, and the book tells of Clay’s reactions to hearing his and others’ part in her demise. Jay Asher’s Th1rteen R3ason’s Why captured me with the compelling tale of blame and misconception.

Within these pages, an important theme lies. This book teaches the importance of every decision we make. As Hannah demonstrates, even small actions lead to bigger ones, and perhaps by other people at that. A simple action such as being on a joke best/worst list had repercussions until Hannah’s death. The list opened doors for rumors to start, people to talk about, and drama to center around. Later, certain guys attempted to take advantage of her based on the rumors they heard. One was a Peeking Tom who took pictures of her through her window! As Hannah herself states, “When you mess with one part of someone’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.” The theme of this book can be stated as, “Your actions have repercussions throughout every part of a person’s life, and not only theirs, but everyone close to them as well.

Most books I enjoy possess a simple, easy to understand format, but Th1rteen R3ason’s Why has a format far from my preference. However, and despite my confusion between the speakers at times, I loved the format in which the book took. In the book, Hannah’s words are italicized, and Clay’s responses, thoughts, and other actions are in plain print. The book does not split Hannah’s speaking and Clay’s reactions into different chapters, but integrate one into the other. Oftentimes Clay contradicts Hannah’s statements in his mind as he listens to her tapes.

As can be expected from a book about a girl who kills herself and the people whom contributed to her suicide, the tone can be spiteful and dark. However, other times, I can practically hear a normal teenage female voice speaking something sarcastic, or cracking a pun. I hate to say this, but sometimes this girl actually says funny things. To make matters worse, she says them in the tapes regarding her suicide! For most of the book, she does not sound resolved to kill herself. She does not even like the word! As the book progresses, an apparent change occurs in Hannah’s voice. The once slightly disturbed teenager turns utterly despondent and indifferent to the world. Clay, on the other hand, speaks roughly the same throughout the book. His melancholy statements regarding Hannah remain until the end. Other characters, such as Tony, stay the same for the entire book as well.

Th1rteen R3ason’s Why tells the story of a funny suicidal teenage girl and another teenager who only wants to know the truth, no matter how gruesome. Through the tapes, he learns gruesome truths about others, and he learns his own part in her demise. During the night, he travels to the scenes mentioned by Hannah, and listens to each story at their respective locations. Clay learns the same lesson that everyone should learn after reading this book. He learns that every action has a reaction on everyone. However, this book contains a little mature content, so I advise reader discretion. Despite that fact, I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, no matter their favorite genre.

288 Pages

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