In THIRTEEN REASONS WHY Clay Jenkins finds a box of cassette tapes recorded by one of his classmates, Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks earlier. Over the timeframe of a night filled with mystery and emotion, Clay listens to all of the recordings while wandering around town.
There are more than 13 reasons why Jay Asher’s debut novel is a must read. First of all, the premise is unlike any I have read. On Cassette 1: Side A, Hannah says, “I hope you’re ready. I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why I’m not saying which tape brings you into the story. But fear not, if you received this lovely little box, your name will pop up --- I promise. The rules are pretty simple. There are only two. Rule number one: You listen. Rule number two: You pass it on. Hopefully, neither one will be easy for you.”
Good guy Clay is freaked out. He can’t imagine why his name would be on the tapes. He used to work with Hannah at the local movie theater and had a big-time crush on her. What role does he play in all this?
The author does a flawless job of building the story with the unique structure of alternating Hannah’s voice on the tapes with Clay’s as he listens in real time. The reader is immediately drawn in and, like Clay, wants to uncover Hannah’s secrets --- and, more importantly, the reasons why she felt her life had to end so tragically.
Though the subject is dark, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is a masterfully written and gripping tale. As Clay travels through his small town with a map provided by Hannah (a bonus gift in addition to the tapes), he visits the sites of several of the incidents linked to the people on the cassettes. As secrets are revealed, Clay’s opinions of his classmates are altered, deeply affecting his view of human nature itself.
Jay Asher is clearly a talented writer, and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for his fans.
Reviewed by Kristi Olson on June 14, 2011