If you haven’t heard of the phenomenon that is the “Thirteen Reasons Why” series on Netflix, I’m not sure where you have been. The show broke Netflix records by being the most tweeted about show in its first week of streaming. As well, you can see how the show has taken over Instagram and other social media platforms, as well as dominating news headlines. It has stirred up a whole lot of controversy regarding its themes of suicide, sexual assault and violence. Many people have alleged that the show has pushed the limits too far on sensationalizing suicide, and triggering those who may suffer from mental health issues. On the other hand, people have said it is bringing to light tough topics to discuss, and it is helping people to understand the warnings and signs of someone in need. What some people may not have known is that the series is based on a 2007 novel written by Jay Asher. For those that have read the book or have seen the show, there is no denying that it is a challenging and emotional ride. Viewers and readers alike have been wondering…what’s next? While talks and rumours are circling about a sequel and season 2, here are my picks for some similar reads.
1.All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Although this is not in the young adult genre, it delves into the issues and subject matter one would typically encounter with YA. This book revolves around Wavy, a young girl who is being raised by very troubled parents. What ensues is a very unlikely and uncomfortable love story between Wavy and Kellen, a motorcycle riding thug who comes to her rescue when no one else does.
2.Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
In this novel, the writer explores how it feels to be exposed when you are trying to hide something from your peers. Simon, the title character in this novel, is attempting to keep his sexual identity to himself, but that could all change when a classmate starts to blackmail him.
If you are looking to have the gut wrenching grief you had while reading Thirteen Reasons Why, look no further. Theodore and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school as both of them are contemplating the possibility of killing themselves. This is a riveting book that shows how two unlikely individuals can find solace in one other. But is that enough?
4.My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Aysel and Roman are both looking for the same thing…a partner to commit suicide with. As they meet online and start discussing the possibilities, the two characters really start to develop a bond with one another. The ultimate test for them will be to determine if their affection for one another is enough to stop their original plans.
5.The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Nastya has a secret past she doesn’t want to divulge to anyone, and Josh has a history that the entire world seems to know about. When the two characters meet they begin to develop a friendship that allows them to confide in one another, and share their deepest miseries and feelings. There is a slow build to the plot of this book, but once it is exposed, it is both shocking and heartbreaking.
This is an exquisitely written book about twins Noah and Jude. Each twin gets their own chapter in the book and we see the faults and choices that each make to have them end up where they are. There are LGBTQ themes in this book, as well as grief and loss, and discussions on how these can transform family dynamics.
This is different from Thirteen Reason Why in that this is more of a suspense-style novel, but it is equally as harrowing and emotional. Cadence, the books main character is attempting to evoke memories of her life before “Summer Fifteen”. It is an emotional rollercoaster, culminating in a shocking ending that is very much unexpected.
Rowell’s novel is not nearly as dark and disturbing as Thirteen Reasons Why or some of these other suggestions. However, what we do see is a relationship that develops between two teenagers who are both on the fringe at their school. It is very reminiscent of the connection between Hannah and Clay.
John Green has written a variety of excellent young adult fiction, such as The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, but Looking for Alaska is the most evocative and similar to Thirteen Reasons Why. Pudge has just moved away to Culver Creek Boarding School and meets the wildly destructive Alaska Young. Pudge falls hard for Alaska, but his world comes crashing down when something unfathomable happens.
This is a very different and unique book that was a nominee for the Pulitzer in 2012. I fell in love with the oddity and struggles that were presented in this book. It is quite a departure from Thirteen Reasons Why, but there are many similarities between Ava, a very bold and courageous 12-year-old and Hannah. Both are very much outsiders, and live in a dysfunctional world that they are trying to navigate as best as they can.
What is similar between these two novels is the horror that plays out on the pages. Salvage the Bones takes place during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Esch, the main character of this novel is fourteen years old and finds herself pregnant. She is also dealing with a deadbeat dad and brothers that are running wild in his absence.
I would describe A Little Life as the much more mature and sprawling sibling to Thirteen Reasons Why. About four classmates who grow up in New York together, the group of men grapple with increasingly problematic issues in the decades of their relationships. Jude, the most harrowing character is dealing with a life-long addiction to hurting himself. Willem, Malcolm and JB, the other friends contend with a bevy of issues, such as sexuality and addiction.
13.The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
In 1999 Chbosky changed the genre of young adult fiction with this novel that explores the many facets of adolescence that were seen in Thirteen Reasons Why. It deals with all of the “hard stuff”, such as sex, drugs, loss, and the difficulties of growing-up in your teenage years.