April 01, 2010

"Thirteen Reasons Why" I Hate Hannah Baker

I just finished Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which was disappointing. After the amazing reviews I'd heard, the book fell short. It was still very good and engrossing for the most part, but the second half lacked. A lot of the characters were just not good characters, and they were not believable. Especially Hannah Baker.

Hannah Baker, in this book, is the girl who kills herself and sends out her suicide tapes (but not it that particular order).

Most of this book revolves around her character, so since she sucked, she brought the rest of the book's average down with her. She's like that stupid study hall grade you get just because you fell asleep a few times, and then it brings you down from a 3.8 to 3.2! Stupid Study Hall Teacher--I mean, Hannah Baker. Now, I give you a Th1rteen R3asons Why I Hate Hannah Baker. [Mild To Major Spoilers Ahead.]

1. She makes mountains out of molehills.
So what?! You thought someone was your bff, then she forgets to say bye to you? Yeah, sure that's a sign that your not besties with Courtney, but does it really matter? Deal with it! Plenty of people are like that, and plenty of people get on with not being their bestest friend in the world without killing themselves.
2. She's bad at explaining stuff.Wait a sec, why did Jessica slap-punch Hannah after the Hot/Not List came out? Why did Alex want to get back at her? Er, Jessica?
3. She's overly dependent on others.
Find your own reason to live! Does she seriously need everyone else to prove that she deserves to exist?4. She's just not smart.
Ok, if she really felt violated, she would have called the cops on Tyler. If she were really feeling guilty, she would have told the police about Bryce.
5. She doesn't know how to deal with ANYTHING!
So what if there are rumors circulating about you? Deal. I mean, I'm sure that sucks, but contrary to her belief, it does not ruin your life. If she talked to people instead of shoving pills down her throat, then people would try to see past the rumors. But how could she--rumors ruined her life! No one can see past them! No one understands me! Ugh, give me a break!
6. She expects too much from others.Ok, she wants Mr. Porter to talk her out of suicide, but she won't talk to him or tell him anything. She wants Clay to stay with her and talk to her, but she tells him to leave her alone. She wants an innocent date, an innocent kiss, but she won't set any boundaries herself--instead she blames absolutely everything on him.7. She's a hypocrite.She pulls on a fake face for everyone else, but calls Courtney Crimsen a fake? She expects the world from people, but gets mad when Courtney uses her for a ride?
8. She's dramatic.

She says things that even she doesn't believe. "My room was a safe haven for me. You took that away, Tyler!" (I'm paraphrasing) No one is gonna buy the "safe haven" crap. Trust me. And how rumors ruin everything innocent? B.S. Yeah, they make it harder to make friends, but don't tell me the first thing Hannah thought when she heard that first rumor was, "Darn it! There goes another nice memory tainted!"
9. She loves attention.Most of her reasons went something like this: Something bad happens to someone else, but instead of acknowledging that the other person is hurt, Hannah focuses the situation back on herself. Like, "My uncle died last night." "Oh no! I am so hurt and guilty. If only I discovered the cure for cancer! I'm going to go kill myself now." It gets annoying. She also runs just to see if they follow. She does it with Clay and Mr. Porter. We get it! You like knowing that everyone loves you! Well, not everyone is going to like you, so deal with it (which takes us back to Reason #5).10. It was her choice.No matter what she said, it was always her choice. That's what really annoys me, when people say they have no choice, because everyone always has a choice. She could've decided not to kill herself and stick it out for another year and a half. She could have not let any of it get to her, but I suppose she has a thing for theatrics.
11. She blames everyone but herself.
Like I said, it was always in her control. She didn't have to kill herself, but she seems to be convinced that it's everyone else's fault that she's dead. They didn't kill Hannah--she did. Why doesn't she take the credit or responsibility? It's her fault that it got to her, that she read into it all, that she doesn't allow others to see the "real Hannah." The killer here is Hannah.
12. She torturing them all.Most of the people who get/got the tape didn't do anything that bad, but Hannah is a huge hypocrite and says they're the terrible ones, while she's in torturing them with her tapes. She is ruining their states of mind, their outlooks on life, and they make them miserable. How is Hannah not the villain here?
13. She can't count.Since Clay didn't count as a reason, and neither did Bryce, that makes 12 "reasons." Why did she send anything to Clay anyway? To torture him? Didn't she like him? Clay never even really wanted to know all about why Hannah killed herself. He said that he wanted to know, but only after he had started listening to the tapes. Before the tapes, he really didn't care.

[Mild To Major Spoilers Over]

Now, I don't think that you shouldn't read this. Just be prepared not to like or feel with/for the characters at all., which takes away from the experience of reading a book.

Your Blogger,

P.S. This, of course, is not a criticism of anyone who is suffering from depression. I have the utmost sympathy with them and wish them all the luck in the world as they struggle with that obstacle. This post is only a criticism of the book, which I believe does not do justice to the plight of those who actually have depression, does not properly connect with readers, and does not come with likable, relate-able characters.


Anonymous said...

I would like to read your thoughts on Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye because I found him whiny and annoying yet a lot of people think he's really smart and insightful.


KBall said...

I am completly spell bound by such an astute analysis of "13 Reasons" by a young woman. I am so impressed. I just retired from teaching young women for 36+ years and tried my best to get them to realize just part of what you have been able to grasp. Congratulations on being such a wise gal! I look forward to reading many of your blogs as I think down deep we must be kindred spirits. Keep up the great job!

Anonymous said...

you make some good points but I think what the book is really about is that little things that to you seem harmless can really hurt people, yah maybe not to the extream of suicide but they certianly make an impact.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I really don't agree with this. You are trying to look at the big picture, when it's all about the small things that hurt others. If you've been in any of the situations Hannah was (which I have) then you can talk about how you handle it. I'm not exactly sure this is the right way to view the story. But it's your blog. You can do whatever you want with it. Have a good day!

Anires said...

I like your perspectives and thoughts on this book. It is a good book overall, just too depressing... And Hannah's attitudes bug me! She did not have enough attempts to save herself. Clay reached out, and she refused help. What was that about?!
Anyway keep doing reviews and I guess I will check your blog out continuously cuz it's pretty good! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree. I work with girls who have been bullied or abused. One of them is an avid reader and I was interested to see how she would feel about this book, having read it myself and having shared your opinion. She hated Hannah. She thought she was a wimp and a cry-baby who was lucky enough to have a number of people reach out to her (like the counselor, who really did make an effort). Her opinion was that Hannah probably should have offed herself if she was going to be so delicate, and she expressed the opinion that she could have made a lot better use of Hannah's considerable assets.

Anonymous said...

okay really? what i don't understand about you is that you take the time to talk about a Character badly in a book. i mean really? you have nothing else to do?!? and ya Hannah is some of these things but i think that just the character. If Hannah wasn't dramatic and could cope with her problems than their wouldn't be a book. and a character. you make some points but i think that the point of this book is to have little problems and be dramatic and do suicide. It's not like their isn't a point to this book. over all, i think Hannah is dramatic and you a little dramatic. i guess what i am saying is that i don't really agree with you.
And i loved the book and i enjoyed it and i know so many also others did to.
Better luck next time....

Anonymous said...

Nadia... i know where you are coming from it did get me thinking when i read your blog, and some of the book just doesnt make much sense well to some poeple. I personally liked the book and i got it all:) Anyway i think it was a touching story even if it isnt true, but it is very meaningful because there are really people in the world who are going through something like this and all they need is someone to tell them that they are loved and cared for. And its true not everyone is going to like you but no one, not one person was a real friend and yes you have your opinion and i have mine but if you were in her shoes... wouldnt you want to know that someone does love you:) Just something to think about.

Astrian said...

Hey, I just finished the book. And I hate Hannah too. In fact, the reason I found your blog is because I googled and tried to find out if there's anyone other than myself who hates her too. Haha.

I especially don't like her because of the Bryce Walker story. I don't think Bryce should be on that list. I mean, OK, he's an asshole, I admit it. But it's completely HER FAULT for letting him do that stuff to her. She didn't do anything to stop him. Not even a word "stop" came out of her mouth. Did she really think that some facial expressions will make him stop? Then, she was stupid.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how I feel about her. It's just like Tony says; she was looking for an excuse to kill herself. That's how I interpreted the hot tub scene with Bryce. She didn't say no because she wanted him to give her a reason not to care about anything. I have heard great things about this book, but I honestly couldn't stand some of the things it seemed to praise. It's not any of these people's fault that she killed herself, and her leaving all of them with nothing but guilt is incredibly selfish.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely, and I've noticed a really grating trend in these sort of novels that "Thirteen Reasons Why" perfectly embodies. I'm calling it the "Hollywood outcast." These are books where the characters are attractive, middle class, have decent families and steadfast friends, but still get treated like they're the epitome of angsty adolescent trauma. Where are the kids who are getting abused by their parents, who go to school in shabby clothes because they're poor and neglected, who drift in and out of homelessness? Heck, where are the fat kids, or the ugly kids? Where are the kids who really, truly don't have anyone? How in the world are we supposed to take Hannah's alleged plight seriously when she's going to parties, getting asked out on dates and people keep worrying about her? And don't even get me started on the sheer narcissism of her one brush with anything resembling a traumatic experience being her own self-destructive choice: how much of an insult is that to teens who never had the luxury of a choice about being molested? Young-adult writers desperately need to get away from this sanitary "Hollywood outcast" model of protaganist, this tendency to write about pretty, popular people who make-believe at being traumatized wrecks, and explore the painful reality of what it actually means to be an outcast teenager.

Anonymous said...

It's sad, but to tell you truth here, I've only heard of this book a few hours ago. I was about to buy it tomorrow, but your post had left me unsure about my decision. Helpless, petty characters like her pisses me off, but you've gotta admit, the plot is pretty interesting. I haven't actually tried it out yet, so don't take my word for it. It'll all come to light (for me) after I get a hold of that book. It looks like you and I have some common views about crappy characters though. Let's go grab a coffee some other day.

Anonymous said...

I finished reading this book just last night. I agree with you almost in every reason. Hannah Baker is one annoying, partly unbelievable character. I don't see how someone can kill herself due to such stupid, little reasons. People say this book is inspiring... What's so inspiring about a person who blames others for her own suicide? If she effin killed herself, perhaps it didn't have much to do with others but with herself and she couldn't deal. I mean sure, there'll always be rumours, there'll always be fake friends out there who make you believe you can rely on them when that's not the case, even peep-toms but you CAN call the police about those! Ugh... She was just too dramatic and I don't find her reasons good enough for her to commit suicide.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. You want help? Get help instead of sending of these cryptic signals and hoping that maybe someone will understand and help you. But even if they had, Hannah would have definitely pushed them away. I really enjoyed the book, and I was fine with Clay and everybody else, but I just think Hannah was completely over dramatic. And when she says things like "By now I was just waiting for an excuse to let go" I think wait, so what is it that got you here? A little unclear about why these rumors and liars and jerks were so horrible. Rumors and liars and jerks are the definition of high school! I just thought she was a little bit selfish because there are people out there who are abused, ignored, and horribly mistreated but stick it out anyways and here she is committing suicide over rumors and lies. Great book, and I like the author, but I just couldn't stand Hannah.

Anonymous said...

Finally I've found someone who agrees about this! They also really glamorize suicide by making her out to be perfect. It's really frustrating when I try to explain why I dislike the character and they get all defensive just because she killed herself. Because a person is dead doesn't mean she was automatically a saint. You made excellent points.