Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Reviews: Thirteen Reasons Why & The Fault In Our Stars

I really shouldn't be reading about anything that relates to death or sickness right now, but for some reason I am drawn to these type of books at the moment, and they provide some kind of comfort. I also haven't read any real YA novels this past year, probably because I always worry that I am going to get bored. I guess the last Laurie Halse Anderson book I read left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, and also I've been obsessed with spy stories from the 40's for months, so that may explain it. Anyway, last week I was in the middle of reading White Riot (Punk Rock and the Politics of Race), and was looking for something a little lighter to read between the different essays. I remembered that my friend Holly had lent me a few books a few months ago and I just grabbed the top one and started reading it.

And couldn't stop. Thirteen Reasons Why (by Jay Asher) tells the tale of a high school kid called Clay who receives a box of cassette tapes in the mail. No return address and no sender. Once he starts to listen to the tapes he realises that they come from a girl called Hannah, a girl who had committed suicide a few weeks before. Through her voice on the tape he learns the reasons why she killed herself. It's heartbreaking, but so very real. The narration is shared by both Clay and Hannah's voice on the tapes, Jay Asher actually does a wonderful job weaving the narration seamlessly. You actually don't feel like the story jumps between the character's voices, more like there are two voices complementing each other, both sides of the story coming together as one. I actually wish I had read this book as a teenager, and would probably advise all teens to read it. It's so sad, but the story does show that all actions, however small they may be, can have consequences.

So I raved about the book to Holly and she came back with three more, one of which was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I started it yesterday during the performance at work, spent 2 hours reading in bed before I literally couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and got up early to finish it this morning (and I am dealing with serious sleep deprivation this week). This story deals with life-threatening illness (cancer) in teens. What I liked about this book is that it treats cancer in the way that cancer victims live through/with it, and avoids all the clichés that you may expect. The main character, Hazel, is smart, funny, witty and lives with the fact that one day in the near future she will not be around anymore. John Green creates a wonderful story with characters you just can't help falling in love with. Imagine the shit you went through as a teen, and then imagine having cancer on top of that... It's like trying to live as a child, a teen and an adult all at the same time. And yes, you will cry, but you will also laugh just as much.

I also must mention that it's pretty awesome, having a friend like Holly who has the knack of picking out the exact book you need at just the right time <3

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