Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why - Review and Interview!

Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Edited to add that Thirteen Reasons Why has been nominated for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2008!
Reviewer: Kurtis

This book gave me the chills! Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the story of Clay Jensen and how he became one of the 13 reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide. Clay receives an unexpected package that turns out to be 7 cassettes recorded by Hannah explaining why she committed suicide. Unfortunate for him, the reason he is receiving the tapes is because he is one of the reasons why. Mr. Asher uses great descriptive imagery to guide us through the cassette tapes that explain it all. He had me on the edge of my seat right next to Clay as he wondered how he fit into the big picture. To make things more intense there is a map that the reader can follow along with Clay that shows all the places that were significant to Hannah.

This story delivers a great message. It definitely makes you stop and think about what you are doing. You never know when something you do or say is going to impact someone in ways you could never imagine.

This is one of those books that I just had to talk to all my friends about. They got chills before they even read it! It's really that good!

EVERY teen and adult should read this book!

For more spine chilling additions to this book check out the website:
I dare you to call Hannah’s cell phone! Creepy!
Drag a cassette from the map onto the recorder and listen to the haunting voice of Hannah. Imagine yourself in Clay’s shoes! He listened to hours of her voice.

Author Interview: Jay Asher

Thank You Mr. Asher for taking time out of your schedule to answer some questions for us. It was cool getting to know you a little bit better.
Jay Ashers debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why came out in October. We had these questions:

Kurtis: What were you like as a child?
Jay: Pretty much how I am now...just a little shorter (and with a little more hair). I was always highly excitable and easily distracted, so I would become massively interested in a subject or activity, such as the exploration of outer space or playing guitar, but then I'd drop that interest to pursue something else. In high school, I never played any sports, but instead played guitar or sang in several bands which never wound up playing in front of any live audiences.

Kurtis: Have you always liked to write?
Jay: Definitely. I started off writing and illustrating my own comic strip, which is something I'd still love to do, but I'd have to find an illustrator because I never took the time to learn to draw very well. Right now I'm most interested in writing for teens (and younger) as well as screenplays.

Kurtis: What was your motivation to write 13 Reasons Why?
Jay: The idea of telling someone's story through a series of audiotapes had been in the back of my mind for years, I just couldn't find an appropriate subject. I never actually sat down to look for ideas to tell in that format, though. One day, Hannah's story just popped into my head while I was driving and I immediately pulled into a gas station parking lot to scribble down some notes while the ideas were still fresh in my mind. How did you expect the book to turn out?I wanted to write an extremely suspenseful novel which discussed some important issues. I think suspense is the best way to bring up those issues, because otherwise it'd be easy for people to set the novel down when things got too heavy. But when you're writing suspense, it's almost impossible to know if it's working until other people read it. Thankfully, if there's one thing almost everyone has said about this book, it's that they couldn't put it down.

Kurtis: Has anything similar to the events in 13 Reasons Why, ever happen in your life?
Jay: Many of the events were inspired by the emotions of real events, but the actual events have been changed so much that they're unrecognizable. But a couple of the embarrassing situations (such as what happens when Clay first meets Hannah...with the untied shoelace) happened to me exactly as I wrote it. In that case, it happened between me and the first girl I ever went on a date with.Do any of the characters in the book resemble people from your life or yourself?I think some of the ways Hannah and Clay feel about themselves are ways that I, at times, feel about myself. Clay likes to see himself as a good person, but sometimes he can be a little afraid to stand up for what's right. And Hannah gets extremely bothered when people get the wrong impression of her, even if she's partially to blame. But none of the other characters were inspired by anyone I know.

Kurtis: What kind of work did you have to do to get it published?
Jay: It took me approximately 12 years to sell a book. But, up until this book, I was only writing humorous books for younger children. Having editors reject books which I spent months, if not years, writing was extremely difficult at times. The first few years, every rejection absolutely crushed my self-confidence. But I soon learned that the only thing I could do was write the best books I knew how to write and hope that someone would eventually see something promising in my work.Did you ever think of quitting?Many times. In fact, ten months before I sold this book, I told my wife that if Thirteen Reasons Why didn't sell, I was going to take a long break from writing (if not quit entirely) to see what other creative pursuits I might be missing out on. Fortunately, it pains me to make my wife cry...which she did at that I promised her that I wouldn't stop until I sold a book.

Kurtis: What kept you going through the long process?
Jay: I've made some great friends (such as my co-bloggers at, Robin and Eve) in the writing world. Without their constant encouragement, I don't know how I would've lasted 12 years. I think, especially when you're doing something creative, you need people around you who understand and can empathize with the ups and downs you're going through.

Kurtis: Do you have anything in the works now that we can look forward to reading?
Jay: I'm currently working on my next novel for teens. Eventually, I'd like to polish up some of my old humorous manuscripts and see if I can sell one of those again.

Kurtis: Do you by chance listen to music while writing? If so what kind and who?
Jay: I don't listen to music while I'm actually writing (like I said, I'm easily distracted). But I do listen to music before I begin writing to inspire a certain mood which I'm trying to capture. For example, with this book, I mostly listened to the soundtrack of My So-Called Life and the band Buffalo Tom (I discovered them because they have a song on the MSCL soundtrack). For the very last scene in my book, I listened to Buffalo Tom's "Larry" over and over.

Here's a YouTube Video with a concert clip of "Larry" by Buffalo Tom

Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you thought about this book.


Sarah said...

Great review. I enjoyed the interview.
This is on my 'to read' list.

roz said...

What a great interview and review!
I am really interested in reading this book now. I think I'm going to call the phone number and listen to the MC's Voice. ACK!

Colorado Writer said...

I love this book...and the author is very cool!

Great interview guys!

If you liked Jay's work, you will like Chris Crutcher, too.

Molly :] said...

Great review.
This book is definantly one of my favorites.
Jay's work is amazing :)

camrie:] said...

Great Review!!! the interview!!!im realy going to love the book!!

liberry lady said...

An amazing first novel. can't wait to read more of Jay's work.

Anonymous said...

this book was amazing, im writing a review on it for an english project. Great interview !

rachel , 15

Megan :) said...

I thought this book taught us all a lesson, "what we do to others has more of an impact in their lives than we might think" and to some point it could cause dramatic (not always bad) things to occur. thank you for giving me that. I have to do a report on a book for school and this is the first book on the list. GREAT JOB!!!

joe said...

ha. I had a crush on a girl. but knew that she has depression. then another lady friend told me to read this girly book.. helped me a lot.