Everyone I know has been raving about the TV series. I have always fallen for books that had characters that dealt with dark, depressed and suicidal thoughts. I don’t think anyone likes happy, chirpy teenagers anymore. Oh we also adore nerdy, socially awkward teens. (Sarcasm, peeps).
Characters: Hannah Baker, Clay Jensen, Alex Standall, Bryce Walker, Jessica Davis, Justin Foley, Tyler Down, Courtney Crimsen, Mr. Porter, Marcus Cooley, Zach Dempsey, Ryan Shaver, Jenny Kurtz (Sherri in the series)
When I heard, or read, that 13RW is the new GoT (which I have not read or seen)I could not wait to get back to Dubai, so that I could binge watch the series. As you all would have known by now, 13 Reasons Why, or 13RW, is a Netflix’s adaption of Jay Asher’s book with the same name. Being the badass that I am, I had to grab the book and read it. And discussed it to few, by few I mean any people who would listen to me, about it. First of, this is going to be a part post. Now on to the first part, the review.
13RW talks about Hannah Baker who kills herself with no apparent reasons at bay. Her parents and Clay, her friend are at a loss trying to understand her death. But soon enough, Clay receives a packet of cassettes at his doorsteps, that has Hannah talking to him, among others narrating the reasons that lead her to suicide. He is instructed to pass on to the next person after he hears them.
The story is fast paced and absolutely un-put-down-able. I loved the clever storyline that kept us on toes till the very end. Each side of the tape talks about a reason that triggered her to die, according to her. The book and the series, both alternate between the voices of Hannah and Clay, which works very well. The series was honest to the book and the audiobook was better even (yeah I did try the audio book as well). There are some changes made to the series, which for me made better sense. But the climax in the book seemed more plausible than in the Netflix series understandably.
At some low point, most of us would have had thought ‘who would be sorry , if I were dead right now?’. Hannah takes it a little further and takes that action. For me, she is not likable, relate-able or even tolerable. I was feeling that it was like Mean girls part 2, all the way through, except we knew Mean Girls would have a good (sorta) ending. Yes people were mean to her. Boys were particularly mean to her. Friends moved on. Shit happens. That is how life is. Though I agree all these reasons could have snowballed her towards her suicide, it was her choice.
I agree that every action that people unwittingly commit, might affect others, but that does not make you responsible for their reactions. No, I do not justify their actions, nor do I appreciate Hannah vilifying everyone else. In fact almost every one of the characters had an own issue to cope up in their lives, and they have their own mechanisms. Some work, some did not. Sadly Hannah’s didn’t work and still seems a glamorous way out. The question the story poses is not ‘who killed Hannah?’ more of ‘how do we avoid another death’, though it does not come of quite that way.
While 13RW boasts about talking about suicide among teens, the taboo, I am not sure if it does enough justice to it. Just alienation at the school cannot drive one to commit suicide, without discussing the depressed feeling part. It still confounds me why is it so hard to say depression or mental illness. I have not found even a mention of it in the book or the series. I don’t get how talking against suicide, bullying and rape is encouraged and even glamorous, while depression is not. Again that topic is for another day. Oh well, that disappointed me.
I loved the story, liked the pace and writing, but I simply hate the hype around it. In short my problems with Thirteen Reasons Why are two pronged: 1) The characters are not just flawed, they are not deep. 2) It does not talk about the relevant issues, that it boasts of. The message sent across is wrong and poorly researched. There are several loopholes in the story, but I don’t even want to go into that.
Bottom line: Read once if you wanna know what the hype is all about. If you don’t, you are missing nothing anyway. Pick it up if only books with suicide and rape are okay for you.
I generally do not give a review to any book that has not touched my heart. There have been a very few books that touched mine as much as this- in a negative way.
If I don’t like a book, I usually move away and forget about its existence but this book has won my hatred so much that I have to rant/ review about it. So any of those SEP fans-am sorry guys I just hated this book. And then why did I spend whole four hours to read this? Go figure…
Book: Nobody’s baby but mine
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #03
Genre: Fiction – Romance
Characters: Jane Darlington, Cal Bonner, Kevin Tucker, Ethan Bonner
Setting: Chicago, Illinois, The USA
A genius (!!!) professor Dr Jane Darlington just needs a baby to fill the vacuum in her life. But she doesn’t want her (from the beginning it is a ‘her’) to suffer the same ‘freak’ (an IQ of 180, hence a freak) status she does, so she decides her father should be a ‘dumb’ jock. So that his dumbness and her ingenuity would give her a normal baby (now this is ingenuity!!!)
(You are still reading? Good)
And of course she doesn’t need a man in her life, just his baby. Erm.. There is a catch. She can’t go out to the sperm bank because only medical students donated over there (see problem of high IQ). This she has no other choice (!!) but to utilize the first chance to seduce the famous footballer (of the Chicago stars) Calvin Bonner.
Come on, he is a good looking footballer and he has an accent- so he should be dumb! And she can get impregnated by him and she could move away from his life completely. Why should he know about the baby – after all he is dumb.
(I was starting to get irritated by now, how about you?)
The hero umm.. Cal Bonner a 37 year footballer with a shortening career – make it threatened career – who still dates blondes below 23 as a rule. He doesn’t get fooled by Jane but still gets seduced (!!!). But when he comes to know of her plans, he decides to punish her by marrying her and also he feels the moral obligation that he can’t let his baby suffer.
(By This time I was almost fuming)
He takes her to his native Salvation, Texas but tries to keep her away from his family, so that they wouldn’t be devastated when they hear about their divorce (planned after the birth of the baby). They were already suffering the death of their other daughter in law and grand son.
(wait you have not heard the best part)
Jane comes to know he is not exactly dumb (gasp) in fact he is a Grad in biology. Earth shatters around her as she finds that Cal had betrayed her (Uhh? come again?) and now she is sure to be doomed with a freak girl baby. (Wait.. not over.. Wait for it.. Tada…)
He is aghast coming to know that he has married an “elderly” lady and that she is 34 (gasp again).. So there goes the last chance of recuperation (as if I really cared to see one there).
Then they agree to stay civilized till her childbirth and then get an amicable divorce. But for that, Jane needs to behave as a person that her in-laws would not miss her. And Jane magnanimously agrees to it.
(And dont even ask me where they fell in love with each other, I was concentrating on when they would tear each other apart or a major earthquake to gobble them up, and then I could go forward with my works.)
So somewhere on the line they fall in love and once she says that she loves him, Cal starts regretting the whole “relationship / commitment” episode and wishes she would leave him alone (or something like that!) and of course he would take care of the baby’s needs.
(If you were not by now, this would take you down)
Once it becomes clear that Cal is not for any relationship and that he had been spying on her through his agents, his family takes “HER” side and as any SEP novel, he grovels. But his family promise to stay with her till she forgives him and wont support him.
Come on, is he not the only one who erred? Is he not shameful? She being woman, that too a pregnant woman she has all the right to get angry. all because she was in love and he was not? Spare me the logic.
(I am by now, more of “whatever is it over yet?)
And then she forgives him when he proves that he is ready for a commitment. You would ask how (I mean you should) He helped her select the wallpaper for their house in the midnight by breaking in a shop. (God save me!)
If there was one word I felt all through my reading – RIDICULOUS. If all these do not convince my hatred for the book, get me the book let me it hit it on your head.
Anyway I got some questions, most of them are rhetorical and I wont bother to think of an answer.
- An high IQ is a bane? Seriously? Freak?
- Smart mom + Dumb dad = normal kid ??
- Dr Jane! you dont need a baby to fill the vacuum just a therapist.
- Jane can cheat Cal about the baby, be prejudiced about his intelligence, act as a hooker and lie about her age and then goes into hysterical behavior that Cal never told that his degree was in Biology (she did know he had a degree). And then throw in the moral questions and his family supports her.
- How does she know that baby would be a she and he keep referring to the baby as a he?
- If Cal was doubtful about the commitment, he could have left her and her baby alone and could have saved us from the ridiculous aftermaths.
- Dont even let me start on Jim’s emotional abuse on Amber (Cal’s parents). “My wife didn’t graduate from high school, so she sometimes gets intimidated when she meets people with advanced degrees“ Doesn’t anyone put these men to their places?
- And you know what the Footballer decided to become after his retirement? A DOCTOR (oh please)
If there was something that was positive about this book (as with all SEP’s other novels) was the matured romance between Cal’s parents. Cal’s mom had changed herself to fit in the sophisticated family and society of Jim, Cal’s dad.
But Jim now, after all these years regrets that he had lost the girl whom he loved and wishes to rekindle the old flame. Those were the only scenes that seemed sensible and made me go “awww”. And Kevin, he was the only character in this whole drama who seemed normal (which means not a jerk). I should have to hold my judgment till I read his own novel in the Chicago Stars series.
Bottom-line: Ridiculous! I would not recommend this to anyone who has a bit of brain. I understand you need a plot for a romance, which need not be exactly plausible but this was tooo far fetched. Thank you for putting up with this rant / review.
What soothes the mind of a gloomy tired lass, on yet another sleepless night? Funny that a sad damsel in distress gets soothed hearing or reading about another one. I felt totally ‘in’ for a whole night read into this grown up version of Mills & Boons.
Yes judge me all you can, but I liked this trashy mushy mushy romance. Not the kind of ‘like’ I would give for a classic but the kind I can happily give away for a rainy day, a cup of coffee, our own ARR and a mills and boons on the hand.
If it was just a Mills and Boons in hand, I may not have been raving like this, but then it is the whole set up.. sleepless Friday night, no friends to text or chat, that might have done the trick, or maybe the book was ‘really’ good?
Book: Heaven, Texas
Series: Chicago Stars #02
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Genre: Fiction – Romance
Main Characters: Gracie Snow, Bobby Tom Denton, Phoebe Somerville, Dan Calebow,
Setting: Texas, The USA
A Spoilt brat, male chauvinistic, smooth talking football player turned to a film star and a plain looking heroine with ‘serious serious’ issues of self esteem meet and what happens only in these kind of movies-happen, the ‘am-so-hating-you-because-am-foolish-enough-to-be-attracted-to-you’ !!! Throw in a couple of love/hate scenes – Aah now I am confused whether I hate or like this book..
**Spoiler Alert ** Bobby Tom? Seriously what kind of name is that.. And everyone calling him that, at the beginning of every sentence. Am I the only one who find this name, repulsive??
You might be obsessed with football, but to select or even pretend to select your wife based on a sports quiz? Excuse me, I am too much a feminist to digest this.
You might be a star footballer with a lost career and you need all the sympathy you can get. But if till the end you are going to trod over all the people around you, you are not getting my dose of sympathy. Sorry.
Let me not start about Gracie. I dislike dependent, hate drama queens, loathe self esteemless women. Ok I hate HER 360 degrees. And one more thing, if you are a plain Jane, you are a plain Jane. Live on with it, you are not going to become the most beautiful girl to the one guy. (we all hope we would, but no). If you do, it seems so phony. And ladies, if your guy thinks he has to fix you – he is not worth it!
In fact the more and more I think, the lesser and lesser the logic seems to make sense.
I think I should stop dissecting the plot and critically evaluating the bits. If I do that, you would hate this… no! You would, hate any chick lit.
So if you read this book just like a M & B, a fairy tale or rather leave all your prejudices, egotism and the predatory skills you developed to criticize the other sex (yes that exists, atleast in a few I know. Yap yap, I know I have) and then read this and such other books you would like, maybe even love it.
I loved it – at a time my brain wasn’t working and I like even myself during those times.
I wrote this review over a span of one whole month, so spare me if you sense a sort of discontinuity