Dear reader, before I get into this review, I have something I need to say. Suicide is not an option – no matter the situation, it is never on the cards. You are special, and you are strong, and you can get through this. If you’re considering it even for a moment, please click here for some professional help, or here to send me a personal message. Suicide is not the logical choice, it is not the only way out. Please, take care of yourself, and I look forward to seeing you again when I next post!
All my love, Abby xx
I know I’m not the most positive person in the world. I don’t give glowing reviews very often, and I don’t give out false praise or fangirl all over this blog. However, few reviews have been as savage as my What Light review way back in December. I don’t remember the last time I hated a book so much. But I hated that book.
Obviously, I need my head examined, because I chose to pick another book by Jay Asher this month after watching the Thirteen Reasons Why show on Netflix. I figured, since I liked the show, I would probably like the book. As it turns out, Mr Asher is just not for me.
Here goes, another 2-star review.
Jay Asher has a talent for creating the most superficial, dislikeable, unsympathetic characters I’ve ever read. Even after seeing the TV show (which made me cry on multiple occasions, and I don’t cry!), I despised the book versions of both Clay and Hannah.
First, let’s look at Clay, he’s easier to address. Something about the way the book was laid out, just really annoyed me. You’d hear a section from Hannah’s tapes, and then it would cut to Clay, and he’d be talking about pouring more milk into his coffee and trying to find a table to sit down, or about what everybody around him was thinking. To me, Clay wasn’t really listening to what Hannah had to say, unlike TV-Clay who was so moved and troubled by everything he heard on the tapes. TV 1 – Book 0.
As for Hannah, I think that her issues in the book felt way more trivial than they did in the TV show. The way book-Hannah talked about the incidents that lead her to suicide, were angsty and were over-dramatic and just poorly dealt with generally.
I guess this is the point where I talk about the tapes themselves. Because in the book we only saw from Clay’s perspective as he listened, I got the impression that the tapes weren’t affecting people – and that’s dangerous. The whole point of Hannah’s suicide was that people had said things about her, and they had snowballed and caused her to kill herself. In the book, we only saw Clay’s perspective and, in my mind, they didn’t affect him particularly. I don’t mean to keep comparing it to the show, but it’s a good reference point. In the show, we saw how they lead to Jessica’s alcohol problem, to Alex’s suicide attempt, how Justin was having problems at home – we didn’t see any of this in the book, and I feel like it really detracted from the message.
Then, I have my problems with the content of the tapes themselves. First of all, Clay should never have been on the tapes. He did nothing to Hannah, she could have easily told the listeners about Clay, without putting him through it all. She had no idea what sort of effect it would have on him, and including him was even more selfish and misguided than her messages for the other characters.
Secondly, from the presentation in the book, why weren’t her parents on there? They neglected her as their business turned for the worse – if they’d listened, if they’d noticed, maybe she would have been okay? They seemed to me a much more fitting recipient of the tapes than Clay.
Dealing with suicide. It’s a tough topic, and as someone who has seen what teen suicide does to a community, this book was wrong. It glamorised suicide. It made it look easy, and it made it look appealing. This book should definitely only be read by someone who’s outside looking in, not by someone who’s going through their own battle.
All in all, I’m glad that this book tried to address something that is so important to talk about. But, I didn’t like the way it was done. It felt wrong to read. If you are interested in the concept, try the series. The series has the same premise, and the same characters, but it does it in a much more impactful and thought provoking manner. I feel for TV-Clay and I mourn for TV-Hannah, but their bookish counterparts, just aren’t for me.
Overall, I gave this book 2/5 (the same rating as What Light). I’m sorry, I really wanted to like it – but he’s just not my cup of tea, and it’s not the thought provoking wonder that the series is. To a degree, I think I just don’t like Jay Asher as a writer. I don’t like his style, and I won’t be reading anything else from him anytime soon. However, I also know that lots of people love this book, so weigh it up. Listen to what your head tells you, and good luck if you try it!
If you have already read this, please let me know what you thought down below! Did you like it? I’d love to try and understand the appeal of this novel!