This is Barton reading Thirteen Reasons Why (13RW) and as just a note of introduction, I have already completed the television series before starting this book, and so some of my point of views may already be set in stone by how it was acted in the television series. A girl commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes recorded before her death leaving her thoughts on the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. She has these tapes shipped to the people who have wronged her (all of her 13 reasons are people).
Reading the first 1/3 of this book, I have already noticed some huge differences between it and the novel. However, both of them are similar in that there is a lot of controversy following the novel/show and I would like to state my position on it. Some people have said that it glorifies important issues like suicide and to be honest, I really think it does. In fact, whenever Hannah (the girl who committed suicide) is talking through her pre-recorded tapes, it just seems to me almost as a kind of sick game. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show, but in the show I feel as if it was a little more subtle with Hannah’s message. To cause guilt was definitely a part of it, but in the book she seems vicious, almost as if she is exacting revenge on the people that wronged her. By doing so, I think Asher has created almost a starlight for people to view suicide in a different way than what it truly is and can feel for people around them.
Asher also has a weird way of telling the reader when it’s Hannah over the tapes or the main character Clay and his thoughts. Asher italicizes when it is over the tape and uses normal text for Clay. I think it’s a good way to tell them apart, but personally I have found that I had to go back and re-read a section because it didn’t fit a character, probably because sometimes I can’t see the difference between the two writing styles. Sometimes I feel that it breaks apart the story in a negative way and rather than read all of what Hannah is saying, I find myself interrupted by Clay’s thoughts and memories.
There are plenty of good things to say about this novel too. I think the book does a great job explaining the relationship between each of the characters and how they all as a whole contributed to Hannah’s suicide. She spends less time on them compared to the show, but she still does a great job underlining some things that weren’t said in the show that even I thought. For the first 1/3, I read the introduction and four tapes. It was really interesting watching all of the characters and their personalities and roles connect almost like a puzzle for me. There are sometimes where I think that there was no way that the people in these tapes to know that what they did would contribute to what Hannah did, but then sometimes after hearing Hannah’s side of the story, I will become conflicted. Especially with Tape #4 on Tyler Down, the “Peeping Tom.” I didn’t like that Tyler was taking pictures of Hannah, in any way, but I did not expect that to be a reason why she would commit suicide until she explained everything. She said that, “Why didn’t you leave me alone, Tyler? My house. My bedroom. They were supposed to be safe for me. Safe from everything outside. But you were the one who took that away” (89). I loved Hannah’s explanation for this and almost even made me feel guilty for not expecting that to be a reason Hannah did what she did. To feel unsafe is a terrible feeling as security is such a basic human necessity, and taking that away from someone else IS cruel.
Hannah’s narration to me can sometimes seem like a sick game, and sometimes it’s really deep and makes you really think. I also love how complex each character is and I am finding myself excited to read more of Hannah’s commentary on each coming person. The only think I dislike are some choices the author made but are mostly small things. Overall so far, I’ll give it an 11/13 🙂 and look forward to reading more.