When Clay Jensen arrives home one day, he finds a box full of cassette tapes on his doorstep. In “Thirteen Reasons Why,” author Jay Asher tells the story of an adolescent teenager who discovers his classmate-and crush-Hannah Baker has left him thirteen tapes two weeks after she commits suicide.
When he plays the first cassette tape, the first thing he hears is Hannah’s voice and the instructions she left behind. Each side of the cassette tapes tells the story of how you played a role in her death. Hannah only leaves two rules: one you listen and two you pass it on to the next person. Astonished, Clay listens to the tapes to find out how he fits in her death.
Book cover for “Thirteen Reasons Why”
Asher doesn’t romanticize depression and suicide the way some young adult novelist are famous for. The book forces you to think of how one simple mean gesture can affect a person. Depression is not a thing that makes a person cool and Asher emphasizes that.
There is something eerie about Hannah having used cassette tapes, hardly any are used today. In today’s society someone might have made a video and shared it on social media platforms and the whole world would know. Except Hannah didn’t want the world to know, she just wanted thirteen.
It gives an intimate and obscure feeling, like the thirteen people are part of a secret society and to enter they had to listen to the tapes. They don’t get to keep them as souvenirs and if they wanted them destroyed, someone would have to physically break them. This would mean they accepted the tapes as the truth, the truth about themselves-someone who is cruel or a peeping tom or a rapist, but to Hannah, they’re all murderers.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” is one of those stories that sticks with you, that when you finish reading it, it makes you rethink your own life and you wonder if maybe you could be one of someone’s thirteen reasons. Asher does something not many authors achieve, to change the way their readers look at the world. Netflix will be airing a 13 episode series on 31 March.
Other honorable mentions for Netflix originals to catch are: Dear White People, Sense8, Black Mirror, The Get Down, Master of None, Stranger Things, Santa Clarita Diet, and The OA.