I just finished 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I don't know if it was all the glowing reviews or the intriguing premise of the book, but I was expecting to like it a lot more than I did. I did like the book, but I didn't love it the way a lot of others seem to.
Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find 7 recorded audio tapes left for him. He finds that they were recorded by Hannah, the girl on whom he had a crush and who recently killed herself. The tapes are about the thirteeen reasons why she killed herself and are addressed to the thirteen people who contributed to her reasons for suicide. The premise is fantastic and I think I'll have a very easy time getting students to read this. It will definitely be in my booktalking rotation. I mean, how easy will this be to set up? (Answer: Very.) I liked how Clay would go around town not really knowing who all was involved in the story and who had heard the tapes, as well as how he had meta-knowledge and different interpretations of things that Hannah didn't have. The layers of understanding and misunderstanding were interesting, and I appreciated the intertwined stories of Clay's present storyline and Hannah's recounting of past events. I think the reason I didn't like this as much as I thought I would is that I had very little sympathy for Hannah. At one point, I did sort of feel for her (won't say when so as not to spoil anything), but mostly she was just sort of weak and irritating. I know that Clay felt annoyed and mad at her at times too, so in a way, maybe this actually demonstrates that Asher did a good job with the characterization. But since I didn't really feel for her, I just kept wanting the book to get to a part where I could feel something for Hannah's plight. It was interesting, but it didn't make me not want to put it down or care terribly much about the characters. I'm also a little confused about how Hannah could include Jessica in her list and tell the rather negative stories about her, considering what eventually happened.