‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ catapults Asher to young adult fame

Christy Choueiri
Staff Writer

Back in 2007, Jay Asher made his debut into the literary world with his book, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” otherwise stylized as “Th1rteen R3asons Why.”

In 2011, four years after its release, the paperback edition of the book hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, marking the book a success among critics of the young adult genre.

The book starts off with a slight air of mystery, after one of the main characters, Clay Jensen, finds an anonymous package on his front door step. After opening the package, Clay finds seven tapes sent by Hannah Baker, Clay’s classmate and crush who had committed suicide a little while before he received the package. With quite a bit of hesitation, Clay decides to play the first tape, and that’s when the story really starts.

The tape kicks off with an unsettling greeting, for Hannah repeatedly makes references to her death in a somewhat dark, yet ironic manner. Following an uneasy two minutes of listening to the first side of the first tape, Clay finds himself even more shaken, as Hannah reveals that the seven tapes detail thirteen reasons why she killed herself.

Clay also finds out something truly horrifying; whoever receives the tapes is one of the reasons Hannah killed herself. After those electrifying first words, readers are unable to put the book down, for Asher torments both Clay and the book’s audience by revealing the reason behind Clay’s receiving of the tape only towards the end of the story.

Asher entices his audience by shifting between Clay’s emotions and behavior, and Hannah’s telling of her life story, at the same time, rather than just narrating what Clay hears.

For the most part, Asher’s writing smoothly alternates between the first and the second main characters, but it does get confusing at certain points. Needless to say, however, Asher’s style gets readers utterly consumed with the book, as Hannah’s experiences escalate with every tape, and Clay’s reactions to her experiences are so emotionally gripping.

In short, “Thirteen Reasons Why” is one of those books that anyone who enjoys young adult literature can find themselves reading, for both the story itself, and the message behind it make the suspense completely worthwhile. However, if I were to make one comment about the book, it would be that the ending is a tad disappointing, with some sort of intensity missing there. Regardless, the book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys drama and suspense stories.

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