After reading Thirteen Reasons Why, I found out it was becoming a Netflix show and decided to watch it once it was released. While I normally don’t do television reviews of any kind, I figured I could make an exception for this, considering I enjoyed the book so much that I was interested to see how it would look on TV.
I wasn’t at all disappointed. It was everything I expected and more. The story transformed on television much better than I anticipated, bringing to life serious topics young adults need to discuss, such as bullying, rape and suicide. This is one of the things I enjoy about the book, but enjoyed more when I saw my imaginings come to life. The directors made sure not to shy away from any of the issues Hannah brought to light in her tapes, even if it meant that the show was graphic with its content. These are all issues that need to be openly talked about so I was very pleased to see the directors highlight them. It showed that they really cared about bringing awareness to really heavy subject matter and making the show represent the books as close as they could.
Hearing Hannah’s voice narrating her story really sucked me into wanting to see how these events unfolded. When reading Thirteen Reasons Why, it’s much harder to imagine what Hannah’s voice sounds like. But now, I find I’m not disappointed by what I hear not only because the audio is authentic, but because the actress who played as Hannah did a really good job at portraying her character. She made her much more sympathetic as a character because you could clearly see she was struggling and needed help. You can see as she continues telling her story how disappointed she becomes when the people she trusts continue letting her down. You can see Hannah falling apart leading up to the point where she can’t take it anymore and ends her life. All of these things make Hannah such a sympathetic character that you can’t help but follow along to hear what she has to say.
Since we are already on the topic of character, I’d like to add I actually like the way all of the characters and the story is portrayed on the Netflix series much better than the book. When reading the book, I felt like all of the characters were flat since the whole story centered on Clay spending all night listening to Hannah’s tapes. You didn’t meet most of them besides being introduced to them with regards to how Hannah talked about them. In the TV original, however, you get to see and meet the characters Hannah’s story focuses on. You get to see how they all interact with each other and how Hannah’s tapes effected their lives. You also actually get introduced to both Hannah and Clay’s parents, both of which play a crucial role in the overall story arch in the show. In the book, these characters didn’t have much of an appearance other than Hannah’s parents no longer being at their house since her death. In the show, they are investigating the school with regards to Hannah’s death, trying to find out why their daughter committed suicide. The same can be said with the characters mentioned on Hannah’s tapes. In the show, they are all in a panic when Clay is listening to the tapes because he’s reacting to what he hears Hannah say about them. They’re worried he’s not going to pass the tapes on or turn them in to the school.
I love that the show went off script from the books for a couple reasons. For one, it makes the story more interesting and continues to show how one person’s actions results in many different consequences. It also makes you as the viewer more interested in seeing what’s going to happen next as Clay continues listening to the tapes and reacting to them. Seeing Hannah’s parents invested interest in getting justice for their daughter plays a role in this too because they along with the tapes become Hannah’s voice since she can no longer speak. This all shows how suicide impacts everyone’s life, which is a very strong message that I appreciate the directors taking the time to portray in the script for the show.
For all of these reasons, I find myself enjoying Thirteen Reasons Why as a television show more than a book. I find the show does a good job of bringing the words from the text to life in a way that every viewer can relate to. It also has more of an emotional impact on me because of my own personal traumas, some of which can be seen in my “Truer Than Fiction” blog post I also highly recommend those going through personal problems of their own to watch it so that you can know you are not alone and that you can always get help.