Thirteen Reasons Why: Book Review by Asha Seth

The Plot:

Clay Jensen finds a gift-wrapped show box lying at his doorstep which contains thirteen audio cassettes. Surprised, he starts to listen to the first cassette and is dumbstruck when he finds Hannah speaking out of the player. The same Hannah Baker he went to school with, the Hannah he worked with, he long crushed upon; probably, even loved. The Hannah Baker who committed suicide two weeks ago. And begins the tragic story of Hannah Baker and what made her commit suicide.

thirteen reasons why
Image Credit: Goodreads

What I loved about this book:

–          Thirteen Reasons Why is a very fast-paced book audio-narrated through 13 cassettes giving comprehensive details of Hannah’s life and how she was related to each of the 13 people responsible for her death. As you read, Hannah’s anguish grows over you and you naturally start feeling her pain.

–          The book is written from both Clay and Hannah’s perspective and the plot is thick with suspense and grim emotions, connecting all the ends very well, which I guess, is outstandingly brilliant for a debut novel.

–          The 13 reasons that the author has cited responsible for Hannah’s act of suicide seem fairly convincing as we come across many similar stories and incidents in real life too.

What could be different:

–          Hannah is low and depressed all the time. In those conditions and also otherwise there is no mention of Hannah’s parents at all which should have been the case, since she lived with them.

–          Hannah seems terribly disturbed due to the rumors about her in school but she faces none of them and lets them live and grow over her. Also, not once does she protest against the students she’s held responsible for the physical abuse she endured. Rather she let them lead her to ending herself which is not a ideal end to the trouble, is it?

Anyway, I still love this book because it is not often that you come across a debut novel that is done with such finesse leaving no loose ends. Jay Asher knew all too well what he was creating when he started with ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’. In one of the interviews, he said  –

All of the reasons Hannah describes were based, at least loosely, on situations I’d either experienced or heard about, mostly from my wife or close female friends. While Hannah wasn’t specifically based on anyone, her character always felt very real. So it was a matter of interpreting those situations through her thoughts and feelings. But, years before I came up with the premise, a close relative of mine attempted suicide when she was also a junior in high school. When I eventually did come up with the idea, it was obvious why it came to me as a female in high school.

(Read more about the interview here:

It’s the things one has faced or has seen a loved one face that leaves a deeper impact. Perhaps, that is why ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ is such a favorite among all age groups.

If you happen to read ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below. The book is now available as Netflix series.

©The Musing Quill

31 Replies to “Thirteen Reasons Why: Book Review by Asha Seth”

  1. I haven’t read the book but I’m a fan of the series. There were marked differences between the book and the dramatized version. Hannah’s parents for example, are a big part of the series and are admirably fighting for her right till the end. Also, Hannah had more spine than what you seem to point out here. But your excellent review makes me want to pick up the book and find out exactly why there was such a furor over the negative image that the show painted about teen suicides and bullying. I’d highly recommend the series to you, that is if you haven’t watched it already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are ways of looking at it. The book merely highlights a fictional character’s plights egging her on to commit suicide. But it in no way suggests one to follow suit. But again, as many people, as many perspectives.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have heard a lot of about it owing to the popular TV series adaptation. However still to read. My son saw a few episodes of the series but then quit saying it was too depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wont deny that, Swalia. It is depressing but in a good way. From a reading experience, you grow fond of Hannah’s qualms and quandaries. I’m not sure if I could say the same for the show since I haven’t watched it. But in any case, I hope you will read it.

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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