Reading wrap-up #23

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Image result for 13 reasons why book coverRating: ★★

Genre: Young adult, fiction

GoodReads rating: 3.95 / 5 (721,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.”

Warning: This book and review contains themes of sexual assault and suicide throughout.

Thoughts: Yes, like Amy Schumer’s book, this was another hate-read (I had 17+ hours on the road last week, what else was I supposed to do?). But unlike Amy Schumer’s book, this was as bad as I thought it would be, if not worse. I read this in high school at some point and even then at that time, I hated it. My disdain for this book was once again dredged up when the series cam out a few years ago (more on that later). I’m implementing a full-spoiler warning for this book so I can talk freely about its issues.

First of all, I found this book had many inconsistencies. For one, at the beginning, Clay maintains he barely knew Hannah, then goes on to describe how he’s always had a crush on her, they made out once and were coworkers for a year… what? Also, Hannah, Alex and Jessica hung out at Monet’s as interim friends, meaning they simply hung out with each other in the meantime while they tried to make other friends at school. So, why was Hannah so torn up when their “friend” group came apart? It sent really confusing messages about the characters and their motives which made me not care.

Since the series came out, there has been a lot of discussion whether or not this story is good for suicide awareness or not. Beth does a great joke reviewing all the issues a lot of people had in detail here, but my main issue was with the heavy topic, it does nothing for people struggling with depression or thought of suicide and might even encourage it, with teen suicides rising after the release of the first season of the show. Hannah also shifts the blame of suicide on others which while bullying is bad and rape is unspeakable horrible, they didn’t force-feed her the pills she overdosed on. She chose to end her own life when she could have chosen to try to get help more than once (a lot of people need to try multiple therapists/coping methods before finding what works best for them). Anyway, I can unpack this story all day, but I don’t have the patience. Here is another good article on what the series does wrong.

Other adaptations: If you thought the book was bad, the series was somehow worse. I watched it when it first came out and was appalled. It’s worst crime was actually showing Hannah’s suicide of slitting her wrists on screen without any kind of warning. You heard me right: slitting her wrists when in the book she swallowed a handful of pills. Showing such a graphic suicide that isn’t even based on the source material is just for shock value and completely exploitative. All the issues in the book have followed it to the Netflix adaptation. Finally, I’ll say it, Hannah’s short-hair wig was god awful. Also there’s currently three seasons out? How many times can that bitch die? I can’t image what happens in the other series and don’t care to know.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Image result for murder on the orient express book coverRating: ★★★★

Genre: Classics, mystery

GoodReads rating: 4.17 / 5 (326,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: When a loathed businessman is stabbed to death on a train, all dozen people inhabiting it are suspects.

Thoughts: Wow, what a great story! The author does a great job of evenly building up suspicion throughout the novel rather than having a few exciting chapters and the rest be meh. Her mind.

Other adaptations: The 70’s version got better critical and audience reviews than the recent 2017 edition, with several other television adaptations.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Image result for one of us is lying bookRating: ★★★★

Genre: Young adult, mystery, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 4.06 / 5 (143,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “[F]ive strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.”

Thoughts: It’s a fun Gossip Girl (some people say Pretty Little Liars too, but I’m a bit out of my depth if I claim that as I’ve never seen it) meets Breakfast Club murder mystery that would probably appeal more to young adults than myself. This book is entertaining enough, but I think it’s a bit overhyped. I also feel that (start spoiler) Brownyn and Nate’s romance was really forced and did absolutely nothing for the plot (end spoiler). I was reading this at the same time as Murder on the Orient Express and found that story a lot more satisfying.

Other adaptations: Short of announcing a T.V. series years ago, nothing has been said since.

Again, I think that will be all for now instead of my normal four reviews since my first one was so long!

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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