I picked up this book because everyone on word press (and elsewhere) kept freaking out about it, and it was on those really good book lists and all that jazz. But I sort of had mixed feelings about it. Don’t get me wrong–I liked it. I thought it was thought provoking, interesting, and hard to put down. I read the whole thing in a morning, because it was so fast paced and I wanted to see what would happen next. But I thought certain subjects were treated with too much levity, and it was sort of a sad story. I guess I should have been more prepared for that.
Clay Jenson is surprised to return home from school one day to find a mysterious package addressed to him with no return address. He’s even more confused when he opens the package to reveal a set of old cassette tapes marked from one to thirteen. But he’s completely unprepared for the voice that greets him when he plays them. Hannah Baker; a girl from his school who had committed suicide two weeks before, a loner, a girl he was in love with. Hannah’s voice crackles through the cassette player, explaining that these tapes would be passed along to thirteen members of the community, each a reason why she killed herself. Readers will listen to Hannah’s previously untold story just as interestedly as Clay, hanging on to her every word; desperate to know more as her story hurtles closer and closer to an end.
In spite of the few shortcomings this book had, I would still recommend it because it’s so gripping and it touches on some really interesting and important subjects, such as how one life affects another and how every action, no matter how insignificant, could have unintended consequences. It also explores the underside of high school and the tangled minds of the kids that go there. I think that although this book was kind of sad, it is worth reading because of the challenge it presents to readers. Every person has the opportunity to have a huge affect on someone’s life. Whether it’s for better or for worse is your choice.