I was excited for this book to come out in paperback and read it right away. The premise is that teenaged Hannah has killed herself and left a box of audio cassettes to be passed along to the people she blames for her death. I came away feeling like Jay Asher is a better writer than a character judge. I didn't like Hannah at all by the end of the book, and while there was room in the text to be angry with her, I think that the author wanted me to like her at least a little bit. But this was a compelling young adult read (for high-school students), the plot was the kind of teenaged trainwreck you can't look away from, and the writing was nicely paced and Clay's anguished night of listening to the tapes was nicely drawn. It got me thinking about other books I've read where, in one way or another, a dead girl or woman is shaping the story.
The principle I used to choose the list gives enough away, so to avoid further spoilers, I'm just listing titles and authors without blurbs, but all of these are suited to adult audiences, and they are all wonderful reads if you like your books smart, engrossing, and at least a little dark.
The Likeness by Tana French (Penguin, $15.00)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $15.95)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Back Bay, $14.99)
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner, $15.00)
Sheila Avelin, March 2012