Thursday, July 27, 2017

BBReview: "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher Re-read Rant

Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Publishing Date: October 18th, 2007
Page Count: 288
Source: Local Libray
Format: Paperback

Description from
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
This is the second time I read Thirteen Reasons Why. The first time I read it was when it first came out, ten years ago. I absolutely loved it and felt like I got something out of the book. Now, fast forward to when Netflix decided they are going to buy the rights and turn it into a show. You have no idea how happy and excited I was to hear this. When I started the show there wasn't too much talk about it other than people being so excited to watch it. I will tell you now that I absolutely loved the show. Yes there were some minor changes, but for the most part (from what I remembered) it stayed pretty true to the book. I loved that we got to see everyone else on the tapes point of view. It really broadened the story and did something that the book simply couldn't. When I was in high school a really good friend of mine committed suicide. Since then I have become very cynical about suicide and people who commit it. So, it could just be that bias showing its ugly head, but I could NOT stand Hannah Baker. She was so whiny, and selfish, and just ridiculous. Other than that, though, it was going pretty well. Then, people finally watched the season finale and were losing their minds. People were saying that the show promoted suicide and was a trigger for those suffering from depression and contemplating suicide.

SIDE NOTE: I am so sick of hearing the word trigger, and I am so disgusted by how our society has turned into a bunch of wimps!! I am all for being kind to others and trying not to offend anyone, but I honestly think it has gone too far. So, what? We can't show anything real anymore? We can't kid around about serious topics? If you can't handle something, then you turn off the TV or put down the book. Can we please not censor the entire world?! I am sorry if I have upset anyone. It is honestly not my intention, but I really think we have taken things too far.

Now, with all that being said, I did think all the negative hype about the show was a little too much. I think people read a little too much into things, but then I finally got to the finale. Was it super graphic? Oh yea. Was a little much? Oh yea. I mean it's TV so they want to shock people, but yes it was a lot. Was it promoting suicide? Honestly? I am not really sure. I know it definitely wasn't giving out the vibe of "everything will get better, so stick around", but I also don't really think it was saying "you might as well just give up and kill yourself".
In the book we only see Clay's point of view so we only know what his take away is, "that you never know what others are going through and so you should be kind to others". In the show, we see how everyone is affected. For those who played a much bigger and darker role in why Hannah killed herself, things got ugly. We saw people run away, people attempt suicide, and people planning what looks like a school shooting.

Does this convey a message of promoting suicide? I honestly don't think so. I think it is just being absolutely raw with honesty. You NEVER know what your actions can mean to someone else so, I think it showed just what actions and opinions can do to others. It was was very extreme and graphic, and maybe it could have been prevented if one of them would have told their parents or had someone to talk to instead of just being ashamed and embarrassed, but they couldn't. I definitely think that we will start to see the "suicide is not the answer" message in the coming seasons. I mean that message is there already, because we see that from one girl committing suicide she has wrecked the lives of 13+ people. The message just wasn't in flashing lights.

Now, at this point you're probably thinking "I thought this was a book review, not a rant about the show". I am getting there! Like I said before, ten years ago I read this book and loved it. I thought it had a great message about how we affect others and it helped me cope with my friends passing. Once I saw the show, though, I needed to go back and re-read the book, because I knew I couldn't have been mistaken by the message all those years ago.

It turns out, I wasn't mistaken. That was still the message of the book. The discord between the positive message in the book and the "negative" message in the show is that in the book there is only Clay's point of view. He didn't play a dark, negative role in why Hannah decided to kill herself so he walked away with the message that we need to be mindful on how we treat each other. We never know what others are going through and we never know how something small could be the tipping point to another. In the show, we see the others take away from Hannah committing suicide and it wasn't all sunshines and rainbows.

After re-reading the story I still absolutely loved it and thought it was a positive thing for people to read. I also appreciated just how little the show deviates from the book. Yes, it broadens the scope, but for the most part the characters and situations stayed exactly the same. I highly recommend reading the book if you haven't. Or if you have, but it's been awhile and you watched the show, I highly suggest a re-read.

I decided to re-read this after watching the Netflix show to make sure that what I read ten years ago wasn't so intense and that I wasn't crazy when I thought that the take away from the book was a positive message about how we should treat each other. After re-reading it I still absolutely loved it and it gave me a greater appreciation for the show. I highly recommend that you read this book, and highly recommend a re-read if it has been awhile since you read it.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 5/5

**The books cover, description, and info was all found on Goodreads. A link back has been provided. All other work and ideas are of my own creation. This book was borrowed from my local library.**