Imagine receiving a package in the mail. You’d be happy right, imagining what it could be? So then you open it up and discover a box full of cassette tapes, each labelled from 1 through to 13. This parcel has no return address on it so you have no idea who sent you this random box of cassettes of all things. You hunt around you house for a cassette player, and if that was me I can tell you I wouldn’t have had one, but you manage to find one and insert the tape and the side that is labelled 1 and press play. That’s when you hear it. You hear the voice of the girl who has recently killed herself talking to you. Now what do you do?. . .
Now this is what happens to Clay Jensen, who arrives home from school one day and discovers a parcel with his name on it, which turns out to be a box of cassette tapes, which were recorded by Hannah Baker. In these tapes, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she has, or is going to (depending on how you want to look at it), kill herself, that’s why there are thirteen tapes. If you receive these tapes, then you are one of the reasons and one of the people that are to blame for her doing this, and now Clay has received these tapes.
I heard about this book from a Book Tuber after seeing a Book Haul video and I heard a brief sum up of what the book was about, I instantly knew that I had to read it. This book is told from both Clay and Hannah’s point of view, but it is told from two different platforms, which was quite an interesting, especially as they are both the main characters. We have Hannah’s perspective, which is told through the thirteen tapes and more in the past tense, whereas we have we also have Clays perspective, which is his reaction to those tapes, with the world and interactions around him and is in present tense. So we have both of these timelines, these different medias and so on, all coming together and combined to tell this story, and it actually works.
When it comes to the story, suicide is such a sensitive subject, that it is always going to be received in either a positive or negative way, because people may be able to relate to this topic and is therefore a subject that is close to them. I choose to read this book, at what turned out to be a very sensitive time in my families life, which we had sadly already had to previously deal with at a previous time. So when I was reading this book, it was becoming more personal to me because of this. As I was reading this book I really was enjoying this story and appreciating what the author was trying to do with this book. The more I read, the more I really got into the book. I didn’t want to stop reading the book until I was finished, as I wanted to know every reason, who was next, every little detail.
I felt bad for Hannah, but even more so for Clay. I felt so bad for Clay and then I started to strongly dislike Hannah, because of her doing this to him, as he couldn’t do anything about it now as it’s too late. The more that I thought about it, the more I thought about why was Hannah doing all this? She kind of turned around and turned into the bully in the end, even though only a few people will know the truth, Hannah knows herself that it only takes a few people to make you start to fell horrible and for things to escalate. I know the intention was there for them to know the reasons behind why she did what she did, but why not write a letter to just that person, or send a tape to just that person? Because then they could still hide. They could still pretend they did nothing and not change, but if people know then you’re more inclined to change. Those are the only reasons I can think of. And then the amount of effort that’s gone into planning everything, the amount of time, just doesn’t speak to me realistic. I know people who have tried to commit suicide, both friends and family, who have all said that once they knew they knew, and they just went for it. They wouldn’t have spent time making and recording cassette tapes, making lists of people they were to be sent to and so on, but maybe this is just my personal experience. At the beginning, Hannah had decided everything and knew who the thirteen people, or thirteen reasons were, but towards the end it seems like the thirteenth person and reason got added on after this whole thing got started, and I don’t want to give away spoilers by going further into this by explaining to much.
This book does only look at a little closed up section of suicide, and I can understand some of the bad reviews I have read, because there is a much wider and broader area of suicide and depression. This is suicide from the angle of a girl who has had, what she classes as some bad times, which has been escalating and building, “snowballing” on top of each other, to the point where she sees no other way out. Where she feels like she has nobody left in her life that she can trust, or that she can confide and talk to. This book made me realise, even more so, how little things can be turned into something so gigantic and can escalate into something else. How a rumour that’s not true, when you laugh at something because everyone else laughs, but it’s at somebody else’s expense, can really have an affect on somebody. How simply saying something friendly to someone and saying hi to them can make a difference to them and how they feel and can benefit other people in a positive way. There are also several suicide warning signs explained in this book, which is a good idea when you know people in your life or come across people in your life who might be suffering. After reading this book, it makes you look at yourself a little bit more and makes you realise how much your actions do have an affect on people. Hopefully, more people will read this book and take a closer look at their actions and think about how they should change, because I know some people who definitely can change their attitudes and behaviour towards people.
Clays part of the story felt more realistic to me and his character made me feel way more emotional and I was able to relate more to him, than to anybody else. His reactions and how emotional he got at things that he couldn’t change, but so badly wishes that he could. He seems like the only person who would actually take anything from these tapes and will use them positively and benefit from listening. He will get answers and reasons behind why she did what she did, even if it’s upsetting and hurts emotionally at the time. He will get to know and have all of the answers he was desperately wanting, even if he can’t change anything that had happened and now has to live with that consequence.
I would definitely recommend this book, if nothing else, it will absolutely open your eyes and make you look at the world, at people differently and at yourself differently. I so wish that I could have given this book a full five stars but I just couldn’t, so I am giving this book 4 stars out of 5, which a definite recommendation.