The protagonists of this dramatic novel are Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. The antagonists of the novel are 10 other high school students who are involved in bullying, spreading rumors, or committing crimes. Some of these characters would include Bryce Walker, Mr. Porter, and Courtney Crimson.
Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker are the narrators of the novel and they implicate what had happened during the novel.Clay Jensen: Clay is a very intelligent yet shy teenager who worked with Hannah at the movie theatre after school or on weekends. He secretly had a crush on Hannah but didn’t have the courage to ask her out, which results in him doubting his abilities with girls. He always wanted to do good deeds and abide by the rules. He is a loyal and respectful teenager but he is also quick-tempered. He prefers schoolwork over parties, and he doesn’t involve girls with bad reputations such as Hannah Baker. In the novel, he appears as a dark, mysterious, and isolated teenager who wants to help Hannah by listening to the tapes and analyzing her voice recordings because he feels guilty for Hannah’s suicide.
Hannah Baker: Hannah Baker had committed suicide by swallowing an abundance amount of pills. She had enough of people in her school hurting her, bullying her, and betraying her, which drove her over the edge. She was smart, friendly, and kind at heart. She always wanted to fit in and to have many friends and find love. She loved reading, writing, and blue nail polish. Hannah met many friends in her new school and she would do anything to try to fit in. She would stay out till late, drink alcohol, and goes to many parties. However, she made tapes on 11 particular students that negatively impacted her life and these students’ actions caused Hannah to take her own life.
The author, Jay Asher, expresses Hannah’s experiences in her life and why she committed suicide. He mentioned that she couldn’t handle the trash-talking, the bullying, and the abuse from her former friends.
A box of cassette tapes was given to the 12 people and it contained voice recordings of Hannah baker’s life story. Each cassette tape resembled a certain pupil with a reason that led to her death. The conflict here is that every one of those person’s lives is changing because of the tapes that Hannah left behind. These tapes had traveled through the 8 students until they came into the hands of Clay Jensen. Clay was desperate to find out who hurt Hannah and who accounted for her death. Clay listens to every single tape in one night discovering terrible secrets that make a terrifying impact on his personal and school life. He appeared on the 9th tape then he realized that he wasn’t responsible for Hannah’s death. Hannah’s tape dedicated to clay was a way for her to apologize to him for freaking out at him after they shared a kiss at a party. Clay’s tape allowed him to know how Hannah felt at that party with him and how she felt before and after the party. Hannah says herself that Clay Jensen belonged on the tapes, but for different reasons, unlike the rest. Clay was held accountable for never reaching out to Hannah and helping her out during her tough times.
Bryce Walker and Courtney Crimson are the two students in the novel that impacted Hannah’s life the most. Courtney Crimson started as one of Hannah’s closest friends and she was regarded as popular and she was admired by everyone at school. Courtney only pretended to like Hannah when she needs something, like a ride to a party or an adventurous night. After an incident that happened between Courtney and Hannah, Courtney made up rumors that Hannah kept sex toys in her room and this statement was not true. This led to Hannah having trust issues. Courtney is described as the good girl that everyone likes. The reason I think Courtney impacted Hannah’s life negatively is that she left Hannah stranded at a party with no one to talk to. Courtney just used her as a chauffeur to get around places. As Hannah went into the hot tub, she felt Bryce against her and harassing her. Courtney witnessed all of it, she decided to open her eyes, she glanced at Bryce and Hannah, then she closed her eyes once again then started walking away from the hot tub.
Bryce Walker is the 11th person on the tapes. He was the popular and well-off student who all the students were scared of. His family had connections, money, and power. He scarred Hannah for sexually assaulting her in a hot tub at a party. Hannah did not give consent to Bryce but she did not say no but it is still regarded as a sexual assault. I think he hurt Hannah the most out of all the characters and it affected how Hannah viewed her body after the hot tub incident.
Mr. Porter ( the school counselor ) is the last person to appear on the tapes as he was the last person to interact with Hannah at the school. Hannah told him all her experiences with the students at school and how they mentally and negatively hurt her. She indirectly told Mr. Porter that she would kill herself, but he didn’t understand. He questioned her actions and only made comments that made her feel bad about herself. He didn’t tell anyone that Hannah was suicidal and that was his biggest regret after her death as he didn’t come to school for a week before Hannah’s death.
The rising action would be when Clay discovers the tapes and he is determined to find out the other students who listened to them. The different tapes before Clay’s tapes are the rising action in this novel because it leads up to all the suspense on why Clay is on the tapes in the first place.
The symbols are replicated at the party which symbolizes all the factors that drove Hannah to commit suicide. The motives are stealing and giving up because other students stole meaningful and tangible things from Hannah’s life. Giving up is a simple motive because Hannah literally gave up her life to be at peace and away from the chaos. The themes are betrayal, reputations, and revenge and these implicate how her trusted friends betrayed her and gossiped behind her back and that she had no friends to help guide her. Reputations in her high school were important because they showed how students viewed you and your personality and it affects how people treated you.
I personally enjoyed the novel because it is a coming-of-age novel and it reciprocates real-life problems that are happening in the world today. It gives the readers an insight into what is happening at schools and what needs to be done to avoid problems that happened in this novel.
13 Reasons Why was written in 2007 and was recreated as a TV show in 2017. The book is completely different from the TV show because the way that Hannah dies in the novel is different from how she died in the TV show. The other comparison is that in the novel her parents weren’t mentioned at all yet in the show, her parents are given big roles. I think the book is interpreted better because there is no lawsuit about Hannah’s death yet in the show, the whole series was based on the lawsuit which made it boring in my opinion.
I would heavily recommend reading this novel because aspects and events that occurred in this novel happen to many teenagers in the world currently. Many people are mentally or physically hurt and mental health and suicide are real and are never the answer to anything. This book certainly gave me an insight into what to do and what not to do since I’m a teenager myself.