Thirteen Reasons Why Review


Madeleine Verby, Writer

Among stories about dystopian futures and fantasy realms that typically dominate young adult’s reading lists lies Jay Asher’s break out novel Thirteen Reasons Why. The story is a chilling tale about teenage suicide with the power to appeal to almost any person who’s been in a middle or high school setting. Thirteen Reasons Why touches on many hot topics of high school, including drugs and alcohol, betrayal, romance, and secrets.


A mysterious package appears on main character Clay’s doorstep. Inside, he finds audio tapes featuring the hauntingly relaxed voice of his high school crush and recent suicide victim, Hannah Baker. On each of Hannah Baker’s thirteen tapes, (a witty baker’s dozen), lies a different story, with one person as its focus to explain the thirteen reasons why she took her own life.


The story is aligned in such a way so that each chapter is dedicated to one of the thirteen audio recordings of Hannah. Clay must listen to them one by one to reveal how he fits into her story.


Hannah’s recorded dialogue is marked in italics, in order to contrast with Clay’s reactions to her words in real time.


An anonymous contributor to The Guardian online magazine states that for them, “I was a bit put off by the layout of this book…the fact that whatever Hannah is saying is marked in italics really puts me off. It makes it harder to follow, as Clay is also providing his own commentary.”


But aside from some varying organizational preferences, the story is generally heralded as inventive and a must-read for anyone who has had a middle or high school experience.


While reading “Thirteen Reasons Why”, one can’t help but correlate other young adult books that also have a prominent place on reading lists. For example, Paper Towns by John Green can be felt strongly in the physical aspects of the character’s journeys. In both tales, a main character must navigate around their respective cities in search of clues left by a girl gone missing. In addition to Paper Towns, another John Green Novel, Looking For Alaska can be seen in the angsty air about the young characters. So, John Green fangirls can rejoice!


Oakdale Senior Sarah Pryor reports that Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher “was over all good, but kind of confusing when Clay was going through all of the tapes.”


Though “Thirteen Reasons Why” was published in 2007, and only reached #1 on the best-seller list for the New York Times back in 2011, its been struck with a new wave of popularity this spring as Netflix has announced that a TV installment of the novel which debuted on March 31st 2017.