Originally this was going to be a post on books I was planning on never reading, but after I started talking about one of them in particular I couldn’t stop, and literally ended up writing nearly 3000 words (I’m not kidding) on why I would never read it and so, I thought I might as well turn it into a post of its own.
The book in question, is 13 Reasons Why.
I was debating whether to post this or not…but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway, my voice wasn’t made to be silenced, right?
I really want to have a discussion on this in the comments because I’d really like to know what you guys think, so please feel free to read as much of this as you want (there is a lot) and let me know your opinions, and please let me know if I’ve stated anything that’s incorrect, as I haven’t read the full book or watched the TV series (more on that later).
*disclaimer – extremely long angry rant incoming, if you like 13 Reasons Why I suggest you cover your ears*
*disclaimer 2 – this post is not meant to be offensive in any way shape or form so if you like this book and I’m about to rip it to shreds I’m really sorry this is just how I feel about it aka it gets me high key triggered but I really don’t mean to offend anyone so if I do I’m sorry please don’t hurt me*
I’m not even going to call it a book – this literal waste of paper (yes we’re going straight in, I can’t believe we’re cutting down trees for this shit) was published and suddenly everyone fell in love with it and still to this day I just don’t understand why. I hate it. I hate this book more than I’ve ever hated any other book in my entire life (I don’t think I’ll ever dislike another book as much as I do this one).
And the thing is, I haven’t even read the full book – I read a few chapters and had to put it down before I threw it out of the window into a burning pit of fire, I swear. And this isn’t one of those things where it’s like “Chloe you should’ve pushed through a few more chapters it gets better” no. It doesn’t, it gets worse, and the things is, I wanted to like it. As someone who has been / is depressed, suicidal and of those sorts, I really wanted to like this book – reading YA books around mental health really helps me and I’d been pleasantly surprised & comforted by the other books I’d read prior to this that address the same topics, so I had really high hopes for this one, especially because the plot sounded so good , I just thought I was meant to read and love this book.
But I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong. I was completely insulted, offended and angered by this book. The fact that Jay Asher has never suffered with depression, suicidal thoughts or any mental health issues at all screamed at me throughout the few chapters that I did manage to drag myself through because he clearly has no idea about mental health at all. I’m not saying that for example you have to have served in the military in order to write a book about it, but at least have some facts / history behind your writing. At least try to pretend you understand what it’s like to suffer with a mental illness, don’t insult those who actually have with your shitty cliché writing – at least try to do some research instead of turning mental health into a joke. This book was ridiculous and so was the writing – Hannah as a character was simply pathetic and completely unlikeable, every single thing in this book was unlikeable and simply awful and it gets me so triggered that everyone seems to praise it like it’s a literal gift from God.
I really didn’t like Hannah at all – I hated her character. She was vindictive, manipulative, self-centred and immature. I feel like all of this was just a big game to her that she continued to play and manipulate people with even after her death, because of her death. Suicide is obviously an extremely sensitive topic and in no way is it a ‘one size fits all’ scenario – people take their own lives for different reasons and we as humans are not here to judge that, because something that you could find to be insignificant, could be another person’s reason for taking their own life.
Some of these reasons were stupid. Downright stupid which is where my anger towards Asher comes from for being so ignorant and treating mental health as some kind of joke or game. It’s like he just picked a few of the most trivial things he could think of and decided to carelessly throw them in. Someone stole a biscuit out of the biscuit tin? Welcome to your tape. Someone accidentally tripped you over in the street? Welcome to your tape. Someone gave you the wrong amount of change in the shop? Welcome to your tape.
I’m not saying that if someone took their own life over one of the reasons mentioned in the novel then I would believe it to be “downright stupid” – absolutely not. That’s what I want to make really clear here, my attitude towards these reasons in particular is because of the way Asher himself decided to portray them – ignorantly and trivially, like I said, it’s like he just picked the first 13 reasons that popped into his head and went “yeah, they’ll do”.
I had to google the 13 reasons because like I said I only read a couple of chapters before I wanted to throw the book out of the window and I’m glad I never managed to read any further otherwise I think I would’ve lost my mind. After doing a bit more research of said reasons for the purpose of this post, here I present to you…
The 13 reasons…
1). Justin – Some dickhead that takes a picture of Hannah going down a slide when her skirt flies up, Justin shows this picture to everyone in school. Typical dickhead American “jock” type behaviour – nothing we haven’t seen before. (Hello Riverdale???)
2). Jessica – Hannah has two close friends, Jessica and Alex, they start dating secretly behind Hannah’s back and distance themselves from her. Alex rates Hannah as having the “best ass” and they all fall out……………need I even say more.
Comment: This point was just so unnecessary, I feel like Asher just likes creating pointless conflict.
3). Because Alex made the list (where Hannah was titled “best ass”) Hannah becomes objectified a lot at school (aka men are trash – women get objectified / disrespected / catcalled etc. everyday). Hannah blames all of this on Alex as well as being the reason that she and Jessica are no longer friends.
4). Some nerd at school who has taken a liking to Hannah decides to take pictures of her walking to and from school each day (again – nothing we haven’t seen before – can you say Jonathan from Stranger Things??). She ends up turning everyone on this guy after her death and makes them throw rocks through his window at night when he’s sleeping…
Comment: Again, I didn’t understand this. For one, she knows she’s being stalked yet purposely leaves her curtains open as she’s getting dressed in the window??
5). Hannah’s friend Courtney who is a closeted lesbian dares Hannah to take off her shirt and kiss her while they’re intoxicated (again, nothing we haven’t seen before, I’ve kissed girls in a drunken state before, not a big deal). The nerd from earlier takes a photo of them and sends it to the rest of the school – both Hannah and Courtney’s faces are not in the photo but people start guessing and in the end Courtney (because she’s a closeted lesbian and doesn’t want to upset her parents or tarnish her reputation) says it’s not her and Hannah in the photo, but in fact Hannah and her girlfriend ‘Laura’.
6). Marcus – Another dickhead jock that goes on a date with Hannah (he shows up an hour late with the rest of the basketball team in tow) and tries to stick his hand up her skirt – she loudly rejects this and he yells at her for “being a tease”.
7). After the above incident, a member of the basketball team, Zach, comes back to see if Hannah is okay – he asks her out on a date but Hannah says no because she thinks it’s a dare from the rest of his friends. Zach’s ego takes a hit and to get back at Hannah he decides to remove all of the nice messages that have been left for her in her basket in their communications class. Hannah realises who the perpetrator is and writes Zach a note explaining why what he did hurt her. Hannah thinks she sees Zack read this note, crumple it up and throw it on the ground when actually, this didn’t happen and Zack kept the note and was carrying it around in his wallet the whole time.
Comment: Somebody help me out here, I didn’t get this either. Hannah hurt someone (unintentionally?) and so he hurt her back….that’s it. That’s literally it. This reason isn’t even validated because what she thought happened didn’t even happen.
8). Again….ridiculous. Hannah meets a guy, shows him a poem about lacy underwear and he publishes it which results in her being mocked in the hallway.
9). Probably the first realistic reason we have so far. Hannah goes to a party and becomes intoxicated, she is alone at the end of the night and accepts a ride home from a girl called Sherri who is also intoxicated but swears she is good to drive. They crash into a stop sign at an intersection and Sherri flees the scene, refusing to alert police because she doesn’t want to ruin her future. Hannah runs to a nearby shop to phone the police but it is already too late as she realises her friend Jeff has been killed at the intersection, as the stop sign had been knocked down.
10). Dickhead Justin is back again and this time is dating Jessica (Hannah’s ex friend from before). Long story short Hannah ends up having to hide herself in a wardrobe while Justin and Jessica sleep together, Justin leaves the room for a few minutes and Hannah hears him speaking to his dickhead friend Bryce outside the door. Suddenly Bryce is in the room and begins raping Jessica who is completely intoxicated and basically unconscious, though she does mumble ‘no’ a few times. Justin attempts to stop this to no avail, and Hannah stays in the wardrobe the whole time.
Comment: This one pisses me off to no end. Hannah uses this reason and blames Justin for the rape, saying that he put his friendship with Bryce over Jessica’s well being. While this is true, Hannah is a hypocritical bitch because I didn’t see her getting out of the wardrobe to stop this from happening either, she stood there, watched it happen and happily placed the blame on someone else, it’s like she used this as an opportunity to ‘tell’ on Justin for something that otherwise would have gone unnoticed but since she happened to be in the ‘right place at the right time’ she was able to bring him to justice. It’s like she uses this point to completely disregard and overshadow the fact that she was also there in the room as it happened and did absolutely nothing to stop it.
Also, I watched a Youtube clip of this event taking place in the TV series because I wanted to see the way they portrayed it, and why is this scene filmed like a sex scene? Close ups, bra straps, low lighting etc. this is a rape scene filmed like something that would’ve occurred between, Hannah and Justin let’s say.
11)……This isn’t a reason really. She just tells Clay that she likes him and apologises for pushing him away when they were kissing at a party.
Comment: I just don’t understand this point, yes Hannah pushed him away for a reason, but then she goes on to talk about how much she wants him ?? Is Clay supposed to be a mind reader? Something I saw on Reddit the other day, and I quote “I understand why she pushed him away but in the tapes when she says she wanted him to stay I was livid. Hannah repeatedly gets on Clay’s case for missing the point yet expects him to read her mind and stay after being shouted at”. – Hello?!
12). Bryce, again. After the days following Jessica’s rape, Hannah goes for a walk to clear her head, ends up walking into Bryce’s neighbourhood and consciously walks into his party. She magically somehow finds herself in the hot tub in her underwear with a few people (whom she doesn’t even like!!!!!) and eventually ends up alone in the hot tub, where Bryce comes out and rapes her.
Comment: I don’t understand. I have not read / watched this scene so please correct me if I’m wrong, but she consciously and knowingly walks in to join the house party of the guy she physically watched raping her ex best friend days earlier? Has she even told Jessica at this point what Bryce did to her? Does Jessica even remember? If not, why has Hannah not told her and if anything why is she not taking advantage of the only good thing that could come out of this situation by telling Jessica to get the hell out of there?
13). She goes to a school counsellor, Mr Porter, about the rape – he basically ignores her and tells her to ‘get over it’.
Out of these 13 reasons, only 3 for me are realistic – 9, 12 and 13. Asher could have taken these 3 specific reasons and really ran with them – he could’ve created something great, raised awareness and created something beautiful, but he didn’t. I just feel like everything else was so unnecessary.
To me, it seems that Hannah purposefully makes situations worse for herself in order to be able to play the victim, like for example the horrifying rape of her ‘friend’ Jessica – Hannah remains in the closet and lets the event take place, even though she has every chance to stop it. God forbid I never have and never will be in a situation like that and so I cannot speak from experience or from the mind of someone who has gone through it, but I cannot imagine that Hannah’s stance is the one I would take and as sick as it sounds, I feel like she remained in the closet during this scene for her own personal gain, which is why I have a problem with it. I am absolutely in no way trying to point the finger here because it is not Jessica or Hannah’s fault that this rape took place – it is the perpetrator’s. Instead of teaching women how to prevent rape from happening, we should be teaching men not to rape. It’s as simple as that. However, Hannah had the option to help and she didn’t, and I don’t believe it was because she was so traumatised that she couldn’t move (even though this is what she says in the tape), but because she herself was trying to play the victim.
Tape after tape, she will not take the blame for anything. Everything is someone else’s fault, someone else’s problem, she is not to blame for anything bad that has happened to her in life, ever. She takes responsibility for nothing. I feel like this was portrayed as being one big game and that suicide was the only ending she believed would suffice. A way of saying “Hey, look what you’ve all done to me, this is all your fault, don’t you all just feel so bad about it now?”
Even after all of this, I was still willing to give it a try. When I heard it was being turned into a series on Netflix (after the initial shock of being completely mortified and wondering how the hell it had been given a TV deal) I still was willing to give it a chance. I thought well, I hated the book but maybe I won’t hate the TV series so much – maybe they will have done something with it and changed things and I’ll actually enjoy it (because everyone and their grandma had been screaming from the rooftops about how great it was) but again, I was wrong. I literally got through 20 minutes of the first episode and had to turn it off, and I’m not even trying to be petty or dramatic, it literally angered me so much that after 20 minutes I was like no, I seriously cannot sit here and watch this.
I feel like I must be missing something but I cannot express how much I hate this book / series, I found it completely offensive and ridiculous, even more so when everyone seemed to jump on the bandwagon and then praise it for its portrayal of mental health and people who had no prior knowledge / experience of mental health then thought that this was the reality of it when in actual fact, this was completely misleading and far from it, this book was a mess.
However, I loved the idea for the story. I feel like Asher should have said “Hey, I have this great idea for a story but I can’t write for shit and am going to completely butcher it and offend people who have actually been through the sensitive topics I want to write about and so I want to give this idea away to an author who will actually do it justice, because I certainly can’t”. He’s a horrendous writer in my opinion and judging by the many 1 star reviews of this on Goodreads, a lot of people feel the same way. The fact that the idea for this book came to him as he was walking around a museum listening to an audio tour, says it all. I cannot express how insulted this whole “franchise” makes me – the fact that it has even been able to go as far as a franchise makes it worse.
To me, it feels like Asher had no idea who or what he was writing about it, it’s like he just guessed everything and thought yeah that’s fine, I’ve included suicide, rape, self-harm and all the other things that contribute to the mix of mentally ill teenagers – that’ll make a good book.
I understand that even though 13RW may not exactly be my ‘cup of tea’, it is for other people. If this book has helped you in any way then I’m so happy for you, mental health is different for everybody and as much as I wish the whole thing (13RW) never existed in the first place, if it has managed to help people then I’m glad it does exist, even if it is just for that sole reason…even if it does offend me and make me want to rip my hair out.
The reason I’m so…hostile towards the whole thing is because I’ve been there, I still am there sometimes. I’ve tried to commit suicide, I’ve self-harmed, I’ve had the depression, anxiety etc. and it takes a brave, educated person to take on that job of portraying it to people in a way that does the sufferers justice. Jay Asher did not do this for me, instead he insulted me, offended me and angered me. He made my mental illness something trivial, a thing that could be thrown around – he represented me in a way that was not true, he told a fabricated story that was not truthful to anything I have ever known, seen or experienced.
There are billions of people in the world, I am not expecting Asher to be able to solely tell my personal story, but it angers me that he believed he was capable enough of taking on millions of people’s illnesses and portraying them in a way that was going to bring understanding, when all it brought was insult. The fact he thought he was up to the job makes me laugh almost, I don’t know who told him he was capable of doing such a thing, but they were clearly deluded.
The sad thing is, some people now look at 13 Reasons Why as an accurate portrayal of mental health and that…well, I think that’s all I need to say on that matter.
As I’d like to end this post on a positive note, I’ll say that I can only hope what 13RW has done is brought awareness to suicide and mental health and helped anybody who needed it.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, if you have something to say about 13RW, please let me know in the comments because I’d love to have a discussion on it – this post is absolutely not intended to offend / upset / disrespect anyone in any way, shape or form, this is simply just my opinion and I felt I needed to share it.
All my love,