Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Reviewed by Brandon Wood

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Brandon Wood – 9/15/13 – 5th p.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.


 On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.


 Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


How would you feel knowing that you are partly responsible for your crush’s death? This is how Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student, feels until he finds out what really happened. In the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Hannah Baker, the girl who everyone thought they knew, took her own life, and now the ones who caused it are finding out that they each are partly responsible. The book makes you think about how you are treating others and gives you motivation to treat everyone with respect.  Although I loved the entire novel, my favorite aspects would have to be the interesting storyline, relatable characters, and powerful theme.

The interesting storyline of Thirteen Reasons Why made it hard to put the book down. As many times as I have heard about self-harm and suicide, I have never seen it presented in such an interesting way. Usually when someone commits suicide, no one gets a full explanation as to why it happened. In this novel, Hannah states this in great detail. From easily believed rumors to inappropriate actions, she explains just what sent her over the top. The way this information was presented is what made the book so entertaining. Having someone who cared so much about Hannah be the storyteller made it much more personal. The storyline of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher made the book one of the best I have ever read.

The characters in the novel were the second element that made the book so wonderful. Jay Asher described them in a way that made me feel as if I knew them personally. The way they related to some of the students who go to Logan High was almost creepy. I know and see students on a daily basis who are just like Hannah. They are portrayed as the bad girls, but once one gets to know them, really aren’t that way at all. There are also students who act like Clay. They are smart, quiet, and have never been known to do anything bad. Since there are people like Hannah, Clay, and the others who caused Hannah to commit suicide at Logan High, these things could be happening right in front of our faces. The relatable characters in Thirteen Reasons Why really opened my eyes to what is happening around me.

The third element that I loved about Thirteen Reasons Why was the powerful theme. To me, the book stressed to be more cautious of how you treat others, because you never know what they’re going through. After I read the novel, I started to question myself and the way I treated others. Could I possibly be partly responsible for a fellow classmate’s suicide? I hope not. We all need to take into consideration how we are treating others. After all, one small action could either save someone or send someone away.

To sum it all up, this novel has to be the best novel I have ever read. It opened my eyes and taught me to be more observant of my surroundings. The storyline, characters, and theme were the main things that helped the book achieve this effect. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories about real issues that are presented in an exceptionally entertaining way. Jay Asher hit it out of the park with his debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why.


4 responses

  1. This is an impressive book review. From the first line to the last, it flows very well. Your thesis is supported through your body paragraphs and comes full circle in the conclusion. This book obviously deals with deep issues but I feel you discuss them in a mature manner without making the book seem depressing. The way you make connections between the characters and your own peers adds your own voice to the piece, which I really like. I believe you could elaborate more on the theme in the last paragraph, but other than that, this review is well-written and a pleasure to read.

    1. Thank you, Britt, for responding to my book review. I will make sure to elaborate more in future book reviews. I think that my lack of explanation could be why I lose points at times. I am also having problems pulling direct quotes from the books to put in my essays. It’s not that I haven’t read the books, because I certainly have, I just don’t know how to add these quotes without saying too much about the book. This has caused a deduction of points in my essays. I don’t want to make the essay too much like a summary. I would be more than happy to take any advice you have to give about this issue.


  2. Brandon,
    While I read, I often circle, underline, or star strong sentences that stand out to me. When I begin a paper, I make a rough outline of what I want to discuss (like a rough 3-part thesis) and then make a list of quotes that relate to each topic. For example, the paragraph you have about the storyline would be a great place to insert a quote: “Usually when someone commits suicide, no one gets a full explanation as to why it happened. In this novel, Hannah states this in great detail [insert a quote here that supports your argument – a quote from Hannah that details suicide]. From easily believed rumors to inappropriate actions, she explains just what sent her over the top [or here].” Also, in your paragraph about characters, you could use any quote that portrays the character in order for the audience to see your connection with the book. In the sentence about Clay that says, “There are also students who act like Clay. They are smart, quiet, and have never been known to do anything bad,” you could add in a quote from the novel that gives us an example of Clay being smart and quiet. To further your explanation about the theme, before you start discussing how it made you think, you could maybe add in more information about the theme since you only have one sentence about it. Tell us what it Is and how it develops throughout the story. These are all just suggestions but I hope you find them helpful. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you, Britt, for responding to my comment. These suggestions really helped me, and I will be sure to use them when writing my next essay.


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