Tag Archives: Jay Asher

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ TV Show- Full Review

1 May

Image via Flickering Myth

Last week I posted about my thoughts on 13 Reasons Why after getting halfway through it. I listened to the audiobook a few years ago and was shocked that it was being turned into a Netflix series. At the time, I felt the book was trying to justify suicide and I still feel that way. Suicide is not an option when things get bad and I felt telling Hannah’s story the way the writers did made it seem like Hannah had no other option. Unfortunately, this show was sickly addicting and I sped through it over the last week and I want to share some thoughts.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Examining how Hannah’s tapes affected others. In the book, Clay is so impacted by the tapes and they’re hard for him to listen to. It’s good to see that this happened to others, too. Maybe this went a little too far, which I’ll address later. Suffice it to say I don’t think Justin would have come away from the tapes without feeling affected.

Skye and Tony. It was nice to see that not everyone at the high school negatively impacted Hannah’s life. Thought I couldn’t help but feel they might be a set up for a second season, it was nice to have characters who were not on the tapes show up in the story.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

The lawsuit. I can understand it. If the school really was as negligent as the tapes claim, it’s deserved. I don’t think the school can be wholly to blame for not recognizing the signs, but I think they did play a part. I think the lynchpin of their case was something they didn’t have at first (the tapes) so I’m not sure how they planned to win that case, but I got it.

Not giving the tapes to Bryce. This made so much sense. If Bryce got the tapes, there’s no way he’d pass them on. When he didn’t, Tony would have been released them and everyone’s secrets would be out. Granted, they were getting out anyway but at least the way the show ended, the students had some control over it.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Changing the suicide. I don’t see a reason for this at all. It was the only scene I couldn’t watch and I think for anyone who knows a person who’s committed suicide or is squeamish (or both), this was really hard and felt uncalled for. Hannah took pills int he book if I’m remembering correctly and pill overdose is a much more common method of suicide for women. I don’t understand why the writers felt it was appropriate to change this.

Things That Changed Too Much

Sequel set up. The show displays on Netflix as ‘Season One.’ The way it leaves off, there’s a lot of room for another person’s story. Alex is in critical condition, Tyler is amassing guns, and Justin seems more suicidal than Hannah. (Side note, I have a theory that Tyler might have shot Alex, but that’s a different story.) We’ve gone through thirteen stories of how these characters were destroyed by Hannah’s death. Why would we want to go through another season of ‘Thirteen Reasons why Alex shot himself’ or ‘Thirteen Reasons why Tyler went on a school shooting spree.’ I think it’s ridiculous to set this up, even if it doesn’t happen.

Jeff and his death being swept under the rug. I get that Jeff’s death was supposed to come as a surprise, but it made everyone at school seem like jerks. They’re falling apart over Hannah and building a memorial to her while Jeff passed away a short while before her and no one is mentioning it. His parents seem apologetic about their son’s death! It’s really despicable and it made me even more upset with the school and if anything gave the Bakers something to root their case in. The school was too reactive and obviously not proactive.

There were some other things that bothered me that don’t fit into these categories. First of all, where do you have to live where school starts late enough to have breakfast at home with your parents after your mom goes for her morning run? Do they start at noon? And where are parents so chill about school-night sleepovers and unchaperoned parties? I was in high school ten years ago, but I don’t think things have changed that much! And what school that size has only one counselor. We had four and my high school was nowhere near that big! There was a lot of ‘suspension of disbelief’ that was hard for me in this series because Liberty High was so different from my (now closed) high school. It kept me out of the story.

I’m not sure what I’ll do if another season comes out. Having a way to teach teenagers to deal with mental illness is great but I don’t think this is the way to do it. Reader, have you see the Thirteen Reasons Why show? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ TV Show- Half Way Review

24 Apr

Image via Flickering Myth

So, I was initially VERY against the Thirteen Reasons Why show. I still am, I’ve just weakened my position. I read the book and was really disturbed because I felt the author was trying to justify suicide. If your life is as bad as Hannah Baker’s, then killing yourself makes sense. What a terrible message to send to teenagers! The book made me really mad and I told everyone who would listen that I felt that way. I still will. I decided to watch the TV show out of a sick sense of ‘having to’ do it. I read the book, I wanted to see how it was changed to a show. I’m still very against the message and understand it’s almost worse (from a psychologist point of view) in a visual form. I wanted to give my thoughts at the halfway point, having just watched episode 6. I’ll come back with another review after the entire show.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Unlike the book, the characters stay involved after their tape is over. In a few of the tapes, I felt like the character wasn’t really that important in the end because their impact was there and gone. In the show, we’re really shown how this person is changed from Hannah’s death and the tapes. They continue to be important and even grow in importance. I thought this was well done.

How Hannah reacts to being groped or slut-shamed felt very real to me. It can be shocking that someone would do that and I felt her frozen reaction was justified and realistic. It wasn’t a weakness on her behalf, it was real.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

I imagined the town the action took place in to be very tiny! It seems that way at times because the characters all run into each other and they’re only now getting a Wal-Mart equivalent. However, the town’s so much bigger than I imagined! It’s big enough for Clay to ride through suburbs in every shot he’s on his bike and be ‘on the other side of town’ after a long ride. I guess I was thinking small town surrounded by farms, my midwest idea of a small town. Did anyone else struggle with this? Oh well, it works better as a bigger town with the difference in socioeconomic class of the characters.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Hannah’s narration. After Tyler’s tape, we don’t really hear Hannah talking anymore. We get a bit, but her telling us a story has disappeared. I think the way the show is doing it is fine, but I wish it would stick with one method or the other: all voiceover or very minimal. The switch back and forth is weird.

Things That Changed Too Much

The ‘let’s get Clay’ mentality! I’m really hating it. Some of the characters, you got the idea from their tapes that they were sorry or would have tried to make things right, but having them now trying to ‘take Clay out’ or ‘get him’ in any way is infuriating. Alex is the most frustrating for me. He’s obviously going through a depression that’s likely worse than Hannah’s, and no one is noticing.

The parent’s point of view. This is heartbreaking and I really struggle with any scene the Bakers are in. Adding Clay’s mom as the prosecuting attorney is even worse. It’s sending me a mixed signal about the attended audience for this show. It seems more geared toward adults than teens and I think that’s rightfully so.

Please, no spoilers for the end! I’ll get to it soon with my semester ending today (!!!) and my husband taking a trip out-of-town soon. Reader, have you see the Thirteen Reasons Why show? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 26-Mar-2014

26 Mar

Being a part of MizB’s WWW Wednesday meme is making me read faster! I want to be able to post about different books each week!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: If you’ve been following me it should be no surprise that I’m still reading Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. But what will surprise you is that I’m almost done! I’m within 100 pages of the end of this 900 page behemoth and I’m at cruising speed now that they’re at the ministry for the final fight. On audio book I just started Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. This is my first comedic book in a while and I love that I’m laughing while driving home from work. It’s a nice way to end my days. On my phone I’m still working through The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I’m at a snail’s pace here. Maybe it needs more time, but I’m not invested in this one yet and it’s a bit of a struggle.

Recently finished: My review for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher went up yesterday. I had mixed feelings on this one, please let me know what you thought.

Reading Next: My attempts to read First Reads books have been foiled! My coworker just lent me Life After Life by Kate Atkinson so that’s next on my list. We started an unofficial mini-book club at work and I’m the last one to read this so I better hop to it! Another friend is going to loan me Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie, the sequel to Medicus, which I read in high school. I lent the first one to her and she went out to buy the sequels that I didn’t even know existed! I promise to eventually get to my First Reads book. Finish Harry Potter is step one!

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (3/5). Its heart is in the right place

25 Mar

I still don’t know who told me about this book the first time, but I saw it on enough book bloggers lists that I added it to my list. I had really mixed feelings on the book, but I think my subtitle says it all: It’s heart was in the right place, but the book seemed a bit flat to me. I couldn’t really connect to it.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay comes home from high school to find a box addressed to him with no return address label. The box contains seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker where she gives the thirteen reasons why she is going to kill herself. Hannah Baker died two weeks before. For the rest of the book, Clay listens to the tapes, waiting to hear his name and what he could have possibly done that would have contributed to Hannah killing herself. There are stories of lies, rumors, betrayal, jealousy, guilt, and rape that all contributed to Hannah’s unhappy time in high school that lead to her death.

Spoilers summary time! Clay waits (quite impatiently) to hear his own name on the tapes. He hears about peeping toms, boys who kissed and told, and friends that were more fake than a purse bought off the sidewalk in NYC. Because of the rumors about her, boys in Hannah’s school think they can take advantage of her and that she’s ‘easy.’ She’s unable to escape the reputation and it spirals downward. Only Clay is able to look past her reputation but Hannah pushes him away. Ultimately, Hannah asks for help but doesn’t find any in the one person she turns to. Clay learns from Hannah’s pain and tries to help someone else he’s afraid needs a friend.

Honestly? I thought Hannah was a very weak character. I’ve read other reviews that said something similar about the book and I agree. I have a very good friend who’s fought with depression and suicidal thoughts as long as I’ve known her and the reasons Hannah gives for wanting to kill herself are chump change in comparison with what my friend’s gone through. Hannah’s depression didn’t seem clinical but rather triggered by a few events; something that could be remedied with time. Instead of getting help with her problems she gave up while knowing there were people who loved her.

Most of the characters in this book fell flat to me. I’ve talked about why Hannah felt contrived, but I think the women in general were very stereotypical and weak. Clay’s mother never asserts her maternal authority when she finds out he’s lying and staying out of the house. Jessica doesn’t believe anything Hannah says and believes her other friends instead. Their female ‘Peer Communications’ teacher can’t even lead a class discussion on suicide effectively. While most of the male characters had terrible negative flaws, there was at least Clay and Tony to redeem them, while the women didn’t have a soul to raise her hand.

Clay was by far my favorite character, though it seems cheap to like the protagonist most. He was a genuinely good guy, no matter what he thought of himself. Hannah saw that in him. His biggest flaw was that he was too passive. He would see something he didn’t agree with and not speak up about it. I liked that Asher used a likable character like Clay to talk about pacifism.

I found it really hard to relate to any of these characters. Hannah portrayed herself as the victim and it was hard for me to feel bad for her because she was so busy feeling bad for herself. The ‘Reasons’ on her tape were all portrayed as bullies, which made them instantly dis-likeable. Clay and Tony were the only characters left that I could sympathize with. Tony had much too small of a part for this, and I still found it hard to connect with Clay for several reasons.

When I was Hannah’s age, I had some similar feelings. I had a break-up with a boy I really thought mattered and that I wanted to be with even after he broke up with me. I lost a lot of friends and felt betrayed by a lot of them. I thought of suicide once or twice. But every time I did, I would think of those people who would miss me, those that cared and would be affected if I were gone. Hannah never had any of these thoughts. I was fortunate and had a few friends where Hannah had none, but I was still able to recognize that it was circumstantial, the way I was feeling, and that when there was another boy or a way out that I could see, things would get better. I almost think that Hannah’s suicide in this book tells kids ‘it’s okay to give up when things are hard. High school is everything and if you can’t figure that out, you’re screwed for the rest of your life.’ That’s not the best message.

I think my favorite part of the book was the last tape, when she goes to talk to her teacher. This is not to say that I really liked that part, but it seemed the most realistic to me. The teacher was scared at the thought of suicide, a reaction a lot of people have. Hannah’s classmates in Peer Communications felt the same way. I really felt bad for Hannah in that scene because she was finally doing what she needed to and she reached out to someone who could help her, but she got nothing in return. Her best (albeit only) attempt failed.

I don’t like that Clay found out Tony had the tapes. I think leaving it that someone had the second set and that they would be released would have been enough and I think pulling Tony mysteriously into the plot was unnecessary. It only served to stretch the page count and add another likeable character. I could have done without him.

I’m glad this book is popular, despite what I’ve said above. It teaches about the effects a suicide can have on other people, the consequences of doing nothing, and one person’s ability to positively affect a person’s life. I wish some of the characters were stronger, but I think Jay Asher’s heart was in the right place when he wrote this. The message is beautiful.

A note on the audio. I read a review that it was hard to tell who was talking at times when reading the text. The audio was a wonderful solution to this. I really recommend it.

Writer’s Takeaway: I liked this way of having two narrators, thought I doubt anyone can ever do it again. Hannah’s stream of consciousness and Clay’s melded together well and it was really cool to read their different reactions to the same thing. I think Asher did a good job of giving them distinct voices as well, which might have been missed reading the text as opposed to the audio.

Conflicted between the writing style and the message, I settled for the middle: 3 out of 5 stars.

Until next time, write on.

Related Posts
Interview ~ Jay Asher | Teens Writing for Teens
Interview with Jay Asher, NY Times Bestselling Author of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jamie Blair | Old People Writing for Teens
Review: “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher | Dutch Book Chick
Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher | Eat Your Way Smart
Spoilers: Thirteen reasons Why By Jay Asher | Book Journey

WWW Wednesday, 19-Mar-2014

19 Mar

I’m having a blast with MizB’s WWW Wednesday meme. If you haven’t yet, considering joining in the fun!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m keeping the numbers low. Yay for me! I’m determined to make headway on Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. I read 50 pages over the weekend and I’ll make my way to the end soon enough. Reading this is much more academic than fun because I have to look words up so often, so I’m not enjoying it as much as I could. My review of this book will be more about what it’s like to read in another language than the book itself. I started a new audiobook last night, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I was advised that I’ll need to keep a box of tissues with me while I listen to it. The story is about the reasons why a teen girl killed herself. That does seem to be a topic that would beg Kleenex. My ebook of the moment is The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I’ll be reading this one for a while and it’s so far, so good.

Recently finished: I finished The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach last night. It was absolutely amazing and had a very fitting ending. I’ll be posting a review soon, hopefully tomorrow! This was for my book club that meets next on 31-March so there will be a follow-up Book Club Reflection to follow.

Reading Next: Since I got another First Reads in the mail last week, I realized how much I need to read The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker. It’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

Recently Added to my To-Read List 7-Mar

7 Mar

I realized the posts I do where I update you on what I’m planning to (eventually) read are a lot like the Friday Finds on MizB’s blog, so I’ll try to time them up with those. Let’s cut to it, shall we?

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I could swear that my husband told me about this book, but he’s never heard of it. I saw it on someone else’s WWW Wednesday post. The story follows a boy who has received messages from a classmate about the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This one had been in my periphery for a while, but after a coworker praised it to me one day, I knew I had to bite the bullet and add it to the list. The main character is perpetually reincarnated and tries to make the most of each of her short lives.
  3. O, Africa! by Andrew Louis Conn. This was a Goodreads First Reads win, my first in a while. Two brothers trying to make it in Hollywood try to stay ahead of the curve by going to get the next big thing: footage of Africa. Did I mention this was 1920s? I’m a bit excited.
  4. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. With all the Rowell buzz going around today, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. I saw a book blogger review it positively and it jumped on the list, aided because Nicole has a copy I can borrow! The main character falls in love with a woman whose conversation he’s monitoring for security reasons. (I suspect in true Rowell fashion that this will be a lot better than it sounds.)
  5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I’ve seen this play before and really enjoyed it. When I asked for suggestions on a book to read for the 1890-1909 period for When Are You Reading?, Katherine suggested this title. A classic farce of mistaken identities and Wilde’s wit.

So there they are! The next five books to be added to the never-ending ‘To Read’ pile.  What have you added to your list? Anything on my list strike your fancy? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.