Friday, June 21, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Jay Asher's debut novel was brilliantly conceived. I can't say enough good things about the idea of having a teen boy (Clay) listening to the last thoughts of a girl (Hannah) who, by the opening of the novel, has already killed herself. Like Clay, we can't wait to find out how different people and events contributed to Hannah's decision. The book is hard to put down. In the beginning, the use of audio tapes threw me off, because I couldn't imagine how a twenty-first-century teen would have access to such an outmoded form of technology. Nor did I have confidence that the subsequent teens in the tapes would have access to a machine they could use to listen to them. Asher gets around this by having Tony's story, which I won't divulge here, but it still required a leap of faith on my part. The language of Hannah and Clay compensated for my leap of faith, pulling me into realistic teen drama, teen thoughts, and teen emotions. There was never a moment while reading from either Hannah or Clay's points of view that I didn't hear and imagine a real teen. In spite of the realness of the teen voices, I still didn't always get a full sense of the characters, which took something away from the ending, since I couldn't recall Skye. Although I appreciated this clear sign that Clay had indeed been transformed by the tapes, I still would have liked more. I was disappointed not to see Clay encounter the others in the tapes. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to everyone, teens and adults alike.