Thirteen Reasons Why.
Everyone has been talking about the TV series on Netflix. It has gotten a very bad rep because it deals with the topic of suicide. Teenage suicide. Ugg. Quite a heavy topic and not one I was super gung-ho to delve into, but many of my friends on FB kept talking about it. I was intrigued. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, it is the story of Clay Jensen, a teenage boy who was left with cassette tapes that his friend Hannah Baker had made, explaining thirteen reasons why she committed suicide. He is instructed to listen to the tapes in order, each highlighting a specific person who had created turmoil for Hannah up until her dying day. Pretty morbid, eh?
Of course, being the bookworm that I am, when I found out that the series was based on the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, I had to read the book first. A big thanks to Krysten for offering to let me borrow her copy. If I were to wait for the ebook to become available at my library, it would’ve taken another 6 months! So I read the book.
I liked the book. It was quite easy to read. Each chapter told the story or “reason” that led up to Hannah’s suicide, as told by Hannah via the tapes. Hannah seemed quite sweet and although few teenage girls would enjoy having a reputation as a “slut”, I found it hard to believe that all these things would lead to a girl committing suicide. She was not outright bullied or taunted. The characters on the tapes were mostly able to move on after her death. The ending wasn’t super sad. My thoughts were, “Really, Hannah? Was it really that bad??” I know the teen years can be hard but I also know it can be much worse than Hannah had it. Certainly not life-ending. I still gave the book 5 Stars because it was different than any other book I’ve read.
Then I started watching the series on Netflix.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know what happens!!
Wow, The series on Netflix took this story to a whole new level.
The story starts very much the way it did in the book; Clay comes home to discover a box of cassette tapes. Obviously the producers needed to embellish the original story to create a good TV drama but they changed soooooo much!!!! I didn’t take notes as I read or watched, but several differences stood out.
Tony. He was not a super huge or important character in the book, but he played a very big role in the series. Everywhere you looked, there was Tony. Observing everyone and being the savior when needed.
Hannah’s parents. In the series they were pursuing a lawsuit against the school, alleging that the school was at fault and that they didn’t do enough to stop Hannah from being bullied.
Clay. He was portrayed as a nerd in the series and they had him looking like he was going off the deep-end (ex. the scene when he is riding his bike away from Blake’s house, all bloodied up and looking crazy as hell). He beat himself up mentally about Hannahs death and how he could possibly be involved. Also, his mom was an attorney representing the school district in the series. That was never included in the book.
Courtney. In the book she was a very naughty girl who was excited about the idea of a creeper watching her through the window. The scene with her and Hannah basically had the girls pretending they had a drawer full of sex-toys that they were excited to use. In the series, however, Courtney was a somewhat shy Asian girl who was raised by gay dads. And she was hiding in the closet herself. In the series she and Hannah were making out and the creeper took photos of them in action.
Zach. In the series he was this handsome, smart jock. A much bigger part of the overall story than he was in the book.
Alex. Alex had a much bigger role in the series. The series also ends with Alex blowing his brains out. WHAT?!! Then they just left us hanging.
Hannah. In the series, Hannah was raped by Blake. This never happened in the book. My theory is they needed a really strong reason to really push Hannah over the edge. This did it. In the book she never lost her parents’ money, and she died after taking pills. The series showed a graphic scene of Hannah slitting her wrists in the bathtub.
The entire group. In the series they conspired and even plotted against Clay. They never planted marijuana on him in the book. In the series there were even references of taking him out because they were afraid he would share the tapes with school or the authorities. They also called Hannah a liar and would hardly admit any involvement or wrongdoing
These are just a few of my takeaways. Has anyone else read the book and watched the series?? What did you think? I hear there will be a second season to the Netflix series.