International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review
Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Nina Aumaitre Review
fiction, it felt like forever since I had let my fingers run along
the seams of the books crowding that section. I mean whats
on the buffet for teens now days?
After letting my
fingers zigzag some more among the glittery and stylised fonts I finally
I settled for Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher. His novel,
the story of an American high school boy, Clay Jensen, who has one final
rendezvous with his former class mate Hannah Baker; one beyond the grave
but also beyond time. The lines of the past and the present blur after
he finds a parcel on his door step. This parcel has no return address
but instead, bundled inside, his crushs 13 reasons for ending
her life; all meticulously recorded on audio tapes. And guess what,
this poison parcel is only destined to the people linked to her tragic
story. So what was his role in her death?
That question is what keeps you turning those pages. But also the feeling
of being an archaeologist or a detective, slowly lifting the dust and
mysteries as every new chapter unfolds, and finally the topic of suicide;
quite daring for a first release.
So Ill come right to the crunch: the intrigue is there, especially
when Hannah Baker opens up her first tape with the following introduction:
"Im not saying which tape brings you into the story. But
fear not, If youve received this lovely little box, your name
will pop up... I promise. Now why would a dead girl lie? Hey! That sounds
like a joke. Why would a dead girl lie? Answer: Because she cant
A great hook that made me wince, but most of all it made me want to
know more about her character. Sadly it wasnt long before I found
myself faced once again with Americas top three high school stereotypes:
reputation, cheerleaders and jocks. As the scenario becomes mined with
stiff and nearly forced dialogue i started to lose sympathy for the
leading lady. Her reasons soon start sounding too manufactured for the
plot. In my eyes this story only proved to scrapes the surface of this
controversial topic, as if the author has picked up a stone and he is
describing it, when what I really want him to do is to crack it open.
After a while the intrigue fades and you cant wait to get to the
end of the 7 tapes, and when it ends you are left feeling like there
was no final sprint!
Though the structure of the novel was interesting, Hannahs story
(all in an audio format), intercut and filled in by Clays view
on the events, his inability to read the signs, her inability to truly
reach out, it stays only as a structure to a story which lacks in depth
and resonance. This is a book about how it is so easy to misunderstand
others, or to miss calculate how much of an impact we can have on them.
A story about awareness, trying to sensitise teens to this issue, which
gnaws away quietly at the core of society. This story has received many
awards and inspired teens to make it into a play and create fan made
trailers of it on Youtube. But personally all I feel like
adding is: a book I have read, and will soon forget.
© Nina Aumaitre Nov 2009
Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
Nina Aumaitre review
France 1793, blood is running in rivulets down the streets as heads
fall severed from bodies like petals of sickle roses
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