When it comes to a popular book and/or book series, most fans are going to want a live-action adaptation to see how it will compare to the widespread paperbacks. For the fan-favorite Thirteen Reasons Why, lots of fans had been waiting anxiously for a movie of some sort, yet they, including myself, received a series from Netflix which includes thirteen episodes with a fifty-three minute length each. When I first saw the trailer, I could not believe it. One of my favorite books ever…being made into a television series! Before watching it, though, I felt truly nervous about how the producers and directors would handle such a wonderful book, especially after witnessing the Percy Jackson movies, A Series of Unfortunate Events series from Netflix, and much more. After watching the first episode, though, I just started at my screen in shock from what I had seen; it was such a miracle! Now, just because the series follows the book really well, it doesn’t mean that it does not have any flaws.
To those who have no clue what Thirteen Reasons Why is about, we follow Clay Jensen, an normal teenager who has been trying to recover the loss of one of her classmates, Hannah Baker, after she commits suicide. Sometime after the loss, Clay mysteriously finds a box with thirteen cassette tapes by his door, listens to the first part of the first tape and realizes that Hannah made the tapes right before she died. As Clay listens to the tapes, he learns that there were other people involved with Hannah’s suicide.
Point of View ~~
Book: The narrative is mainly in first person, which means the book reveals the events happening in Clay’s perspective. When the book mentions the events happening in the tapes, though, the narrative shifts to Hannah’s point of view.
Show: Each of the characters get the attention they do not have in the book, which really made me happy. The viewers will get to discover more about what happened to the people in the tapes from their perspectives, developing the story even more than the book.
Book: A normal teenager who gets along with everyone.
Series: The nerdy kid no one likes. When Clay starts listening to the tapes, all of the other people involved think that he will go to the guidance counselor and his parents about the suicide.
Relationships to Hannah~~
Book: Hannah and Clay only know each other from work and having a couple classes together and they do not talk to each other as much as the readers want. When first reading the book, I really hoped for some development of the two’s friendship. And as for the other people involved in the tapes, they had more information about what they thought of Hannah than Clay did.
Series: Surprise—the viewers get to see more development for Clay and Hannah! The two were friends before Hannah died and got along really well. The audience will also get to see some more chemistry between them, and it’s totally adorable!
Book: Clay finds the tapes and listens to all of them in one night. He also travels to the places Hannah put on her map that she put in the tape box. Before I read Thirteen Reasons Why, I was worried that I would not enjoy the book because the timeline takes place in less than twenty four hours, which I strongly dislike because of the lack of development, but the setting fits with this book.
Show: Instead of binge-listening to the tapes in one night, it takes Clay almost three weeks to finish the tapes! Instead of disliking the timing of the series, I actually enjoyed it because the viewers get to see Clay taking his time to listen to the tapes. Also, this reveals progress towards seeing further point of views from the other characters in the series, which can make some characters that are not likeable in the book, much more enjoyable in the show.
Book: Outside of the antique tapes used in the novel, the electric devices used stay in the 2007 era, since that’s when the book was published.
Series: Since the show aired this year, the audience expects to see smartphones, Instagram, etc., which makes the story more believable for this time period.
Drugs, Profanity, Horrible Teen Behavior~~
Both the book and TV series do not shy away from realistic behaviors from some teenagers in their high school years, such as using many swear words, drinking alcohol, and a few sex scenes.
Book: There are no instances where Clay has hallucinations about Hannah.
Series: Wow, Clay starts having visions about Hannah Baker while listening to the tapes! That is a huge turn for the fans who have read the book before watching the series!
Book: Wait…what lawsuit? The readers just get toread about Clay listening to the tapes and think about the realistic imagery from Hannah’s tapes.
Series: I get the producers and directors are trying to accomplish the goal of showing the reader about what happens when the lawyers get involved and how the parents react to the suicide, but the lawsuit does not have a huge compact with the story or progress the story in any way for the fans of the book.
What happens to the tapes after Clay listens to them? ~~
Book: Clay passes the tapes to the person who is a part of the tenth tape and the readers do not know what happens afterwards.
Series: The tapes are passed to person number thirteen and the trials for the lawsuit are in session.
After the party~~
Book: Clay tries to reach out to Hannah Baker, but she ignores him.
Series: Now, the situation is the exact opposite: Clay starts ignoring Hannah even though she tries to reach out to him and apologize for what she did!
Okay, about the cinematography used in the 13 Reasons series, it seems normal compared to the other dramas I watch, especially on the Freeform channel. Some of the visuals—an example being the poster for the show—are stellar…while at times, the camera seems to look wobbly and unsteady, making the camera-work look a bit lazy and not well put together. But, the backgrounds and color schemes used for various scenes look stunning and almost realistic to, well, reality!
After re-reading the book and viewing the series for the past week, I have come to my decision to vote the Thirteen Reasons Why franchise a 4.5 out of 5 stars! The series really surprised me because of how well the actors and actresses play their characters and how the show follows almost strictly to the book. For those of you who are wondering if the people who haven’t read the book are still able to watch this series—the answer is…Yes, definitely! The cast and crew do an amazing job making the show to where all older and mature audiences can watch it without being confused. Gosh, I recommend this series to any mature teenagers or adults interested in dramas, mysteries, interesting characters, and a story that will stay in one’s heart for the rest of his or her life.
Which do I prefer…?
I have a hard time choosing which I like best, but I am going to say the boom because it made such an impact on me and changed my views on high school and how horrible bullying can be.
Age Recommendation for Book (by Jay Asher): 13 years and older
Age Recommendation for the TV series: 16 years and older
Show rating: TV-MA
Warnings: Instances of Drug and Alcohol, Sexual Abuse, Lots of Profanity, Some Violence and Blood, A Couple Death Scenes
Book Published: 2007
Series Came Out on Netflix: March 31st, 2017