Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother

 

Marcus aka “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself.


 

I started reading this book expecting to be as blown away as I was four years ago, but I think I’ll settle for 3.5 out of 5 (or 3.75) stars this time.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, I did a lot in fact, it was just I wasn’t inclined to give this book full 5 stars which I did the last time.

Firstly, the writing; I think the writing is decent and strong overall, but there were some scenes that failed to peak the tension and excitement as much as I had hoped; it felt slippery and underwhelming at times. However, as I said it’s pretty gripping and intense and I liked this book is told in the first person, through Marcus’s narration which I personally think made this book more engaging.
What bothered me was the volume of ‘tech talks’ in this book. This book deals with a lot of cyber issues such as Internet privacy, electric surveillance, coding, snooping, cryptography etc, etc. Although these talks are accompanied by a crash course along with ample examples, as the story proceeds and gets more complicated, I started to feel it a bit overwhelming. I did think Cory Doctrow did a great job of breaking technical aspects down to bitable pieces, but you might find it a bit over your head if you are not a tech-savvy. It is OK that you don’t understand all the tech talks in this book (because I didn’t), it is totally enjoyable even if you just follow the main plot, but it might be a good idea to know the basics prior to reading this.

As for the characters, other than the protagonist, Marcus, none of the other characters left much impact on me; I didn’t find the characters are fleshed out enough.
In this book, Marcus attempts to save his best friend, Darryl, who is still held captive by the Department of Homeland Security and goes to such length of waging a war against the government. However, the bond between those two characters is not drawn well enough so Marcus’s desperate attempts to save Darryl didin’t strike me as strongly as I would have liked. As for Ange, the love interest and who was supposed to be an impactful character that drives Marcus forward – felt one-dimensional, too. Overall, all the characters felt a bit lackluster and underdeveloped.

I think what kept me going was the plot. It is gripping right from the beginning and entertaining to read through. The plot itself is pretty simple but it’s got some exciting and thrilling sometimes devastating twists scattered throughout the book.
I particularly liked the execution of the Operation False Positive; it describes how Marcus sucks down the numbers of others’ credit cards, their car keys, passports, every sort of identification that proves who is who and then swaps them with someone else’s unnoticed. It beautifully illustrates how sharp and smart he is; it was pretty exhilarating to read. Brilliantly done.

What jumps out about this book is the author incorporated some history lessons such as the freedom campaign and civil rights movements into the main plot. Through this sequence, we get to see how our predecessors fought against the authorities and the government for our fundamental human rights, for freedom of speech, how many lives had lost and how the United States has become a ‘free country’ as it is today. Since this sequence is done against the backdrop of social studies classroom and includes some enlightening discussions, it comes into me quite naturally, it doesn’t come across preachy but it definitely brings such issues to our attention and I appreciated that.
I also enjoyed Marcus’s transformation that takes place as the story goes. In the beginning, he is just an incredibly smart 17 year-old high school student who can easily outsmart school surveillance system. But after the bombing attack and the detention by DHS, being stripped away first his privacy then his dignity – he becomes more Constitution-minded and realizes how much he loves his country and values freedom and then wants to take back what has been lost since the attack.
Although I don’t find the romance between Marcus and Ange necessary, given the ensuing development in the latter part, I can make sense out of it.

Overall, I enjoyed this re-read. There are parts that I found a bit redundant and drag which could have been cut, but the last 30% of the book is definitely exciting, it’s a page-turner.
If you are a tech-savvy and like this type of genre, it’s recommended.
Even if you’re not, I think you’ll end up enjoying this. It would be definitely better if you had some knowledge of Internet technology though.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (Excerpt from Goodreads)


 

I seriously can’t wrap my head around why it took me SO LONG to pick this one up; I should have read this much earlier than I actually did.

This is an incredibly powerful, electrifying book I have read all year. This one definitely lives up to the hype that it has garnered.

The author did an amazing, stunning job of delivering truthful accounts of what’s happening in the world and the long-standing issues that have been deeply entrenched in our society as well as shedding an enlightening light to our subconscious prejudice.

The writing is solid, powerful, and incredibly strong. The story is told from the perspective of Starr so the story is woven with relatively short, simple sentences. But don’t be fooled – the writing packs an incredibly strong punch that makes you feel sick in the stomach at times. It’s acute, brutal and sometimes just sickening. I can hardly imagine how much time Angie Thomas spent condensing her feelings, messages that she wanted convey down to these short sentence. When those sentences are consumed by us readers, as soon as they sink down our system, they rock us to the core; the explosion comes sometimes immediately, sometimes slowly like tidal waves. But it doesn’t make any difference in terms of the power and gravity this book delivers. I was simply amazed by her writing.
I must admit that it took me a while to get used to the diction, but it didn’t affect me in the way how I perceived this book.

In my reading updates, I remember saying that I found some scenes and parts a bit dull and underwhelming; but I was wrong. I now know it was all because the author was carefully building up the world of the story, literally laying the groundwork for the blast that comes later in the book. As expected, from Part 2, the story picks up and it gets only more captivating and enthralling, staggering at times.

What shook me is the messages this book delivers; the injustice placed upon the minority group, the prejudice we subconsciously have against those who we see as ‘different,’ and the total bulls***t that law enforcement, even the grand jury reaches on the incident.
This book made me cry and boiling with anger. I even went on a rant on my Goodreads updates. I was so frustrated and even reached the point where I felt ashamed of myself. The messages, the subject matters that this book deal with should be acknowledged by everyone, EVERYONE. As a fiction reader who is less inclined to go to news articles and other non-fiction books, I really appreciate Angie Thomas for writing this book and bringing this issue to my attention.

Another thing this book pointed out to me is where the cause of the prejudice lies.
In this book, Starr’s friend, Hailey is described as a ‘racist,’ and through a run-in with Hailey, Maya makes a confession that clearly illustrates Haily’s tendency to paint others based on wrong conceptions or based on their race.
What I found problematic or what bothered me here is that Starr blamed Hailey for being a racist (or, at least lashed out at her tendency of thinking White people’s lives matter more than those of black people) without giving any distinct, specific reason.
She later herself says, ‘we let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us.What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?’
In this run-in scene, Starr and Maya didn’t point out, or talked Hailey into what exactly wrong with her remarks. Without any in-depth explanations or talks, nobody can see why it’s wrong and their attitudes need to be corrected. Unless we are made acknowledge or instilled in moral sense, a clear distinction between what is allowed to say and what is not – we never know the ‘boundary.’
That was another thing that this book reminded me and although I wouldn’t say heart-to-heart talks will always work, I think it’s important enough for each and every one of us to bear in mind throughout our lives.

The argument, the clash between Starr and Chris at the Prom clearly reflects the deeply rooted racial issue that we have now, too. Throughout her life, Starr has mastered how to shift and fine-tune her attitudes depending on who she’s with; she subconsciously modifies her behavior – how to react, how to act, what to say etc, etc. She thought she can be herself with Chris, but she actually wasn’t. Her desire of not being seen as a charity case or seen from a ‘ghetto’ (as she puts it) made her hide her true self even from someone who’s supposed to be the closest to her. That insurmountable ‘barrier’ that could potentially have its roots in ‘race’ and lead to prejudice hit home for me.

To be honest, talking about this book as a fiction novel doesn’t seem to do any justice; it even seems totally irrelevant at least to me.

Reading this book made me realize how ignorant I have been and what makes the ‘real problem’ in our society – it lies with ourselves – partially, at least.

The latter part – particularly Part 5 is stunning. It really picks up the pace and culminates in a dramatic, stunning, beautiful end.

So many things happen in this Part 5, but the change arrives in Starr’s mind is particularly notable.
She goes through a lot of emotions; fear, despair, grief, but she finally recognizes what really matters in life and finds ‘real courage’.  What she goes through shakes her and freaks her out at times to the extent she wants to hide, not being recognized as ‘the witness’ – too heavy a burden for a 16 year-old girl to bear. But with the support from her family, Daddy and Momma, Seven, and Chris and so many others – she finds her VOICE. She determines to step out of her comfort zone and fight for justice.
This progression is done in a very natural way, it flows beautifully and doesn’t feel contrived or convenient at all. Combined with the fantastic characterizations of Starr’s family – especially Daddy and Momma – everything came into me really naturally without a hitch. Starr’s family dynamics is really a breath of fresh air – I liked it a lot.

I am quite satisfied with the direction this book take. It’s literally a ‘rude awakening’ yet is quite enlightening and pregnant with meaning.
There’s no sugar-coating, no embellishments, I feel this is a slavishly truthful reflection of the problems and issues that we have and again, this should be read by everyone.

This book won’t disappoint you.
I highly recommend everyone pick this up and I’m truly glad I finally did.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

 

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

As joyfully refreshing as Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, When Dimple Met Rishi is a frothy, funny contemporary romance told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists. While Dimple is fighting her family traditions, Rishi couldn’t be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents – could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

‘Menon wrote an utterly delightful novel and broke my heart by writing an ending because I want nothing more than to keep reading about Dimple and Rishi forever . . . I’m looking forward to it being a huge hit of 2017.’ (Book Riot)

 


 

This is one of my most anticipated reads in 2017 and I am glad that I finally got around to actually reading it.

This is basically a cute YA romcom with a solid main plot where two young Indian Americans, Dimple and Rishi, meet for an arranged marriage which Dimple initially adamantly refuses, but then gradually fall in love with each other.

First, let’s talk about the writing; it’s very simple and straightforward yet it possesses a strong ‘draw’ that pulls the readers into the story and keeps them engaged throughout the book. Once you pick up the book, you want to read non-stop. Short chapters also make this book a fast-paced page turner, it’s pretty unputdownable.
Her sense of humor is also wonderfully displayed in her writing. In particular, the first 10 chapters or so are Oh So HILARIOUS. It’s been a while since I laughed over a book so hard – I don’t know what it is, but her diction and the choice of words amplify the hilarity even more and hit right at my funny bones, making me completely cracked up.
Not only being funny and hilarious, like I said, her flair in evocative writing is apparent; The main two characters’ inner conflicts, nervousness, concerns, hurt, dejection and joy are well reflected in the writing, making this book emotionally engaging.

The characters are interesting and well fleshed out, too. Although some of the subcharacters seemed underdeveloped and didn’t leave much of an impact, the fundamental differences in the two main characters – Dimple and Rishi – and their family’s characteristics are well-developed. Especially, the stark contrast in Dimple and Rishi’s beliefs and perspectives toward tradition, culture, and gender role in society give the book a lot more depth, I was curious to know how and when their paths ever cross and how they develop themselves as the story goes.

Personally, I found Dimple a bit unrelatable; she’s really goal-oriented, independent, and unconventional. She knows what she really wants in life and is full bent on getting it no matter what. Despite her mother’s wish for her getting married young, she aspires to leave her mark in the world as an App developer and shows absolutely no interest and even thinks that’s exactly what gets in her way. With her little respect to her culture and tradition she was born in, I found it a bit difficult to fully connect with her. She seemed a bit too selfish at least to me.
On the other hand, Rishi is incredibly mature and accepting. As opposed to Dimple, he accepts his role and obligations as the first son and show respects to everything he’s surrounded with – to his parents, to the culture, tradition, etc, etc. Most importantly, he is gentle and so adult in the way he handles things. Although he is born to a wealthy family, he isn’t reduced to be a despicable, stuck-up show off. When he displays his opulence, he does so for good cause. And this is the quality that makes Rishi an endearing, relatable character that you want to cheer on.
They seem completely different and would never get along, but what they have in common is their passion; Dimple’s for coding and Rishi’s for comics. They are both really talented yet Rishi is resigned that he has to ditch his dream to be a comic artist knowing it’s not what his parents want.

The chemistry between these two main characters, especially how the dynamics shift as they develop their friendship is such a joy to read. As they keep hanging out together and working on their project for Insomnia Con, the love starts to blossom despite Dimple’s initial rejection, and she finds herself gradually drawn to Rishi and feels comfortable in his company.
This transition is done in a very subtle, gradual way and it speeds up as the story develops. It may come across predictable, yet it doesn’t spoil the fun. The whole romantic scenes are just heart-melting and even sensual. They are simply breathtaking and beautifully written, striking a perfect balance with a healthy dose of sweet romance. It’s romantic, but not overly sugary nor saccharine. Simply swoony, gentle and beautiful. I enjoyed it a lot.

That said, there are some parts that I found sloppy in the latter half.
Basically, Dimple’s oscillating feelings toward Rishi and her reservations are well depicted and pretty gripping, but some scenes felt a bit of a letdown.
For instance, the talent show, a part of Insomnia Con competition falls into this category. Given the amount of pages spent leading up to this event, given all the fuss that has been made up to this point, the very scene, the talent show sequence is way too short and underdeveloped. It was like starting a minute ago and then finishes in the brink of an eye. That’s how I felt about the scene and I found myself quickly losing interest.
The ensuing scenes also came across too neat and convenient.
What’s supposed to be a moving reconciliation-followed-by-a-big-confession felt too predictable and generic. The change in Ashish’s perspective toward Rishi arrives too quickly, not convincing enough. How could the long-sitting sibling hostility be solved so easily??
I understand Ashish became pretty opened up to Dimple, but he wasn’t to Rishi, he hasn’t lowered his defensive guard against his big brother completely. In this regard, I felt it a bit too convenient and dull.

From then onwards, it kind of felt like a sandwich made of sloppy, too convenient scenes and moving, amazing cute scenes. You have a very convenient, clichéd scene where things go way too beautifully and then the next minute you have a very touching, engrossing scene where you find yourself on the edge of your seat; eager to find how the story unfolds.
These two come almost alternatively which is probably the reason why I got to stick to the book till the end. I seriously thought this book would only go south from the talent show scene that I mentioned above.

But you can rest assured; this book probably won’t disappoint you.
The exhilarating, cute, moving moments are in store for you in the end.
It’s kind of predictable and a bit dramatic, but again, it hangs in the perfect balance; it doesn’t come across overly dramatic nor too sweet, it won’t gross you out.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this. Despite some issues, flaws, and loopholes this book has, it is quite an enjoyable, cute YA romcom.
I appreciate this book being written by an Indian author and is about an Indian American boy and a girl. It brings diversity to a potentially typical YA romcom book and provides us with a glimpse of Indian culture. I bet you’ll find it interesting and refreshing, too.

If you are into cute, YA contemporary books, I recommend you pick this up.
In my eyes, this book lives up to the hype and is worth you time.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

June Book Haul

Hello, everyone! This is not technically a book haul, this is just a monthly book-buying which ended up being way over my budget (again, yes), but I’m going to share with you the books that I bought this month. I’m pretty much certain that I’ve bought all the books that had been on my radar or I had been meaning to buy, but we’ll see…

Here are the images of the books that I’ve bought this month (so far):

I completely lost track of the number while I was buying them, but I ended up buying 17 books… this is plain crazy lol  But only five are physical copies (paperbacks) and most of the Kindle books were on special offers (or incredibly low-priced), so the number itself is pretty staggering, but as far as the bottom line goes, it didn’t put me in much of a strain.

Totally unexpected was this:

Kindle

Yes, my new Kindle Fire 7 which came out on June 7th. I didn’t even intend to buy this, but I noticed what had stopped me from reading on my Kindle was the colorless, black-and-white display of my Kindle Paperwhite. As you guys know, I do AN AWFUL LOT of cover buy. I am an epitome of ‘judging-a-book-by-its-cover’ reader, so not being able to appreciate beautiful covers means quite a downside to me 😦

It’s been more than a week since I got this baby and I’m really enjoying the reading experience. This won’t change my preference for physical books but I’m now more inclined to read on my Kindle than before unless physical books seem more appropriate than e-books (For instance, I don’t think books like ‘Everything Everything’ and ‘Illuminae’ will work well with e-book formats; they do contain a lot of graphics and I’m not quite sure how truthfully e-book formats can recreate and visualize them.) If you have such e-books and think they work perfectly well, definitely let me know. I might change my mind about e-books in general 😀

In addition to those books, my dear Twitter friend (she likes reading English books, too) got me Jane Green ‘Summer Secrets’

I asked her to get ‘Summer Days & Summer Nights,’ a collection of short stories by popular YA authors on behalf of me and then she decided to throw in that book, too!
I don’t know if you can tell from the pic, but the SPINE IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS with an alternative stripe pattern of different shades of blue, I fell in  love with it.
This is going to be my very first Jane Green (as a newbie, there are so many authors whose books I have never read…), and I am so excited to read it this summer!
Thank you, my friend! I know you’re reading this, I cannot thank you enough for all the love toward me ❤

 

That’s it for today. Those are the books I recently bought and plan to read during this summer (not everything, but hopefully).
What are the books you’re planning to read or you’re anxiously waiting?
Let me know in the comments and I’ll talk to you all again soon 🙂

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

The Book Thief

I wasn’t quite sure if this book was really going to live up to my expectation until I reached the very end. Although it did move me to some extent, the tidal wave of emotions that I had been expecting didn’t arrive;

Until I reached the chapter, The End of the World (Part Ⅱ)  to be more specific.

Set in the years 1939 – 1943, Nazi Germany, The Book Thief weaves a story of a German girl, Liesel, and her encounters with the inhabitants on her street.
She loses her brother on their way to their new foster parents’ home and she commits her very first thievery after her brother’s burial ceremony.

She picks up a book lodged in the snow – The beginning of Liesel’s book thievery.

To me, this book felt like a collage of the lives of inhabitants of Himmel Street rather than a story.
There is, indeed, a solid story line running underneath the entire book, but I think the vast majority of the book is about Liesel and the people whom she gets to know or comes to love.
There is Rudy, there is Papa, most importantly, there is Max. A Jew who left a big impact on Liesel and with whom Liesel forms a very strong friendship.
Stories with individual characters are woven amazingly in detail and are entertaining, but the real culmination of the tension (at least for me) arrives at the remaining 20 pages mark. This is where all the stories come to life. This is where this book hit me in the feels and made me all welled-up.

I particularly loved the friendship between Liesel and Max. They respectively become indispensable to each other. With Max being a Jew, Papa and Mama know what it means to hide Max from the pursuit of Nazi and what consequences await them, but they risk everything to protect Max and to keep a secret that Papa had made to Max’s father.
Such details behind each character serve very well to make this book emotionally engaging and captivating.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous; I don’t know how to articulate what it feels like.
It’s stunningly beautiful, lyrical and poetic. More than anything, it’s generally calm and quiet, yet very strong.

What struck me interesting about this book is that the story is narrated by Death himself and I really liked his voice. His narration is dignified, yet I sensed the humor in his voice. He is very calm, collected and observant, too. Although this story is told through the eyes of Death and sets in Nazi Germany,  it didn’t feel morbid and depressing so much. Not that I’m saying that it’s all uplifting, which is definitely not the case, but it is NOT all bleak and gloom. Through Death’s very observant detailed narration, we can get a glipmse of happiness (albeit occasionally) in Liesel’s life.
He says ‘Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me,’ but I felt he is actually nice. I could even feel some warmth in his voice.

The main characters are all lovable and in particular, the bond between Papa and Liesel literally warmed the cockles of my heart. Which is all the more reason why the aforementioned scene broke me; I know it’s inevitable, yet it still hurts.

This book is rather long with 538 page count and this is not a fast-paced quick read.
This is one of those books that should be savored and devoured by taking as long as one needs to let the story sink in.
This is a story of life, friendship and keeping promise. It is simply breathtaking and magnificent.
Even if you feel it a bit dull with not so much going on, the jolt does come in the end.
This book does need patience. I’m so glad that I read it. I will definitely reread it.

Surprise Book Haul!

Hello, everybody!
Although it’s been a while since my last post, I have been reading as rigorously as always.
AND, the same goes for book buying.
Today, I thought it’d be a lot of fun to share with you the books that I got yesterday.

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All right, these are the books that my friend sent me yesterday.

From top to bottom:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Windwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Always by Sarah Jio
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The three from the bottom are actually what I asked my friend to get for me.
Although I had been curious to try Book Outlet or Thriftbooks where you can get books at much cheaper prices, living in Japan literally ruins the perk; it totally depends on how many books you buy and its total weight, but when I once attempted to buy books from Book Outlet, the delivery fees came to about $17.99 while the total price of the books came to less than 10 dollars.
You know what I mean? It is RIDICULOUS.

So, when my Twitter friend with whom I often do buddy reads and who lives in Guam asked me if there were any books I’d been meaning to get so that she could get them on my behalf at more reasonable prices and then send them to me when she’s back in Japan this April, I literally pounced on the offer.  

Unfortunately, only Truthwitch was available on Book Outlet and I ended up getting other two books from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble,  I think I got Truthwitch almost for a song (if my memory serves me correctly, it only cost like $3 or something for a hardcover. That was incredible). So I was happy 🙂

BUT THEN, as you can see, the package sent from her included THREE MORE BOOKS.
Windwitch, Always and Lord of the Flies. 

I was like, “OMG, she shouldn’t have!!!”  I momentarily lost for words.
Seriously, who would have imagined that she would throw in three more books!?!

Although I insisted that I would pay for them, she flatly refused saying that it’s been a lot of fun talking with me about books and that I don’t need to think about paying her back.

Oh, my gosh, I am so blessed to have such a wonderful friend 😀
Thank you so, so much!! I can’t thank you enough.

Looking at these books makes me so happy 🙂
They all look so pretty and gorgeous. I LOVE all of them.

 

There you have it, this concludes my Surprise Book Haul.

What are the books that you’ve got recently?
Whatever that may be, happy reading!

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Thirteen Reasons Why

■Synopsis (from the back cover)

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it.
Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life…

Forever.


 

This book didn’t blow me away as much as I hoped it would.
I did enjoy the reading experience and found it a quick read, but it just didn’t completely click with me.

In fact, I’m still indecisive about this book; while I don’t particularly adore this book, I still find this very haunting; it definitely left a vague, yet lasting impression on me.

This may be a kind of book that one may not particularly love yet can’t help thinking about. That’s exactly what’s happening to me, to be honest.

Like I said, this is a quick, engaging read. In each chapter with the number of cassette tapes you’re on – you’ll listen to Hannah narrating her side of the story as to what led her to taking her own life. Personally, I found it pretty voyeuristic.
There are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and are thirteen people on the list to whom the cassette tapes will be passed on.
Which means, each and every one of them will be listening to what each of them on the list had done to Hannah – in detail and learning that it was actually them who pushed Hannah over the edge – in a hard way.
With regard to this, I think it’s very clever and engaging, but at the same time, it comes across a bit too vindictive and venomous.

As for the writing style, it actually took me a while to get used to.
While the story is basically narrated in the first person -from Clay Jensen’s perspective, since we are supposed to be listening to Hannah’s soliloquy throughout the thirteen cassette tapes, namely thirteen chapters, there’s a constant back and forth between Hannah’s narration and Clay’s inner thoughts; I personally found this pretty distracting and I actually had to do a lot of re-read to figure out which perspective I was on.

I know that I’m digressing and it may be only me who feels this way, but Clay’s teenage angst and wandering around the town not being inclined to go home kind of reminded me of Haulden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
I don’t know why, but it just did. Please share your thoughts if you felt the same way.

Story-wise, I personally didn’t find the respective thirteen reasons that drove Hannah to taking her own life were particularly tough and severe. Now, please do note that I’m only talking about the plot; I have absolutely no intention of dissing or denigrating those who are agonized over such issues dealt in this book. I merely thought that we probably would not take our own lives over these incidents if we encountered just one or two out of them –  I wouldn’t say they are totally everyday matter and we all have been there, but then again, we may have experienced such issues more or less at some point in our lives, I assume.
The real problem, what makes it insufferable for Hannah is that they come in droves.
Like I mentioned, we could probably take some of the incidents that Hannah describes, with the help of others, that is. They are tough enough and might take some time for the wounds to heal, but we could probably bounce back if we have a solid support system.
However, I don’t think we could handle all of them if they came back to back, literally consecutively. That would be too much to take particularly for teenagers.
Although my first gut-reaction towards Hannah’s claims was a bit inconsequential, maybe? but I can easily imagine it would be humiliating and seem like her future holds no hope whatsoever for her. So, I could live with that.

Another point I want to make and what I particularly liked about this story is the change that visits Clay’s mind after hearing Hannah’s tapes.
This story tells you what big of an impact you can have on someone else’s life; how your words and deeds can affect others and the ripple effect of your conducts, even though the effect of which is unbeknownst to yourself.

And once you know the truth, that’ll change how you view things and people.

Being blatantly shown what he could have done to save her but he didn’t must have been too much for Clay, trust me – it was so hard to read, I felt for him – but I liked how he changes – or tries to change – after such a revelation.

And he actually puts his determination to action.

That’s enough for me; it’s such a hopeful, rewarding end.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 stars, but this rating could be changed afterwards (probably in a positive way.)