Thirteen Reasons Why Review

Thirteen Reasons Why
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy via Amazon

You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen comes home from school to find outside his front door a mysterious box with his name on it. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. If he listens, Clay will find out how he got onto the list - what he hears will change his life forever.

I want to start by saying I wish I'd read this book before the TV series. Mainly because, you know when you watch a film adaptation after falling in love with the book and you sit there niggling at every difference and being annoyed by the things they've changed and the character's they've taken out etc? Well, that's exactly what I did throughout the book; because honestly, apart from the characters, the tapes and Hannah committing suicide, there really isn't much the same. Everything is more exaggerated in the series and I get that they needed more to fill out 13 hours of TV but still, it was quite frustrating; which is why it was given a 4/5, instead of a 5/5.

If you've not read the book or seen the TV series, I'll give you a quick rundown. Hannah Baker committed suicide (she overdosed on pills, not sure why they changed it for the TV series) and 2 weeks later, our protagonist Clay Jensen finds a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep. He presses play and hears the voice of the girl he once loved, Hannah. He isn't even sure whether to carry on as Hannah tells him that everyone on the tapes has contributed to her death somehow and that he is one of those people. He is devastated but wants to stay true to Hannah's wishes and listens to all of the tapes in one night. (ONE NIGHT?! Didn't we all get so annoyed at Clay in the TV series for taking what felt like years to listen to the tapes?!)

The tapes are definitely not what you expect but the book isn't anywhere near as dark as the TV series. Obviously, it keeps the pivotal moments of bullying, rape and suicide etc but it isn't as harrowing as I was expecting. Each tape goes into detail about how a person affected her life and how the smallest of things contributed to the bigger picture of her depression, thus resulting in her suicide. Even the smallest things such as Zach hiding her anonymous notes, when they were one of the things keeping Hannah's head above the water, were so important. All the way up to the bigger things, such as telling a teacher you need help and them telling you to "move on". Actually, I did feel sorry for Mr Porter. I think once Hannah had planned her death and recorded the tapes etc, that there was no going back. I think regardless of what Mr Porter had said, it wouldn't have been enough to save her; just my personal opinion.

Despite the differences to the TV series, I really enjoyed the book and getting to grips with how the story should have been. You still come away with the same message: "be kind, think about the things you say and do as you don't know what anyone is going through." With most books I enjoy, I finished it in a day and I spent a lot of the book; in particular Clay's tape, bawling my eyes out. It's a book that really tugs on your heart but definitely not a light read and there are a few triggers in the book that could set you off if you've been in a similar situation, I know it did for me. I think that's the beauty of this book, the things that we're made to feel we can't talk about, that we need to hide, are exposed and out in the open for everyone to see and that's probably my favourite thing about this book. Stopping the stigma on these taboo topics is just what this world needs.

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