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Book vs TV Show: Reviewing Thirteen Reasons Why

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Aside from the Harry Potter series, 13 Reasons Why is my favorite book. Immediately after I finished the book in eighth grade, I did my research to find out if there was a movie. There was supposed to be a movie where Selena Gomez would play the protagonist Hannah Baker, but the production was brought to a halt when her schedule grew increasingly complicated. When it was announced that it would be made into a Netflix short instead and Selena Gomez would be part of the production team, I knew I had to watch it. I wanted to see if it was as magnificent as Jay Asher wrote the book.

The beginning of the series stayed true to the book which left me very happy, but the ending changed quite a bit and left my eager mind unsatisfied. Despite this, the changes made the story more thrilling and nail biting, and added in the views of every other kid affected by Hannah Baker’s tapes, not just the protagonist, Clay Jensen. Even the parents had an active role in the plot which was a wonderful addition since suicide doesn’t just affect the person who did it.

This story is truly heartbreaking, and if you choose to read the book or watch the new Netflix original show, pay close attention. Put your phone on silent and toss it away from you because the story author Jay Asher is trying to show you is worth listening. I’ve read a lot of books in my 16 years of living, and none of them have touched me like this. I cried while reading the book, and I cried while watching the show. It doesn’t matter how you learn about Hannah Baker’s tapes, as long as you learn about them.

Because my book and movie/t.v. show reviews are growing quite popular, here is the review for Thirteen Reasons Why the book, and the short. Even though the plot is so incredibly good, there are flaws in both the book and the Netflix short.

The Book Rating: 5/5

I fell in love with this book the same way Hannah fell in love with Clay. I didn’t expect to, but I kept hearing good things about this book, and then all of a sudden it was my favorite and I was in love. I couldn’t put it down. I read the book in two days and each page left me more and more impressed. Instead of the typical chapter outline that books follow, Jay Asher took a different approach and separated sections of the book by titling them “Tape 1 Side B” and so on. The purpose of this wasn’t to just be clever, but it made readers feel like they were listening to the tapes along with Clay, and in a way, we did. It was hard to put the book down because I felt the same way as Clay, I wanted to know what he did and I needed to know why Hannah killed herself. Jay Asher constructed his book so their would be two protagonists and you could hear two sides of the story and the truth of their encounters. Everything was so beautifully written and it was like the author had gone through the experience himself. He didn’t, but he was inspired because his niece committed suicide and he wanted to tell the world that even the little things you do can add up and affect someone on a deeper level. In a way, his book was a wake up call to the world, urging people to be nicer to each other and reach out to someone in desperate need of help. That’s why this book is so incredible. The ending is probably the best part because after Hannah has died and showed everyone who got the tapes that they need to pay more attention to someone who is struggling, and Clay learned that better than anyone else. Skye, a standoffish classmate has always been a mystery to Clay because she never let’s anyone in on her life, but the last line of the book shows that Clay decided to reach out to her with a simple line “Hey, Skye.”

The Netflix Original Rating: 4.5/5

I had much anticipation before the show premiered. As it’s my favorite book, I wasn’t completely sure I would love it, but after discovering Selena Gomez (my idol) was the executive producer, it made me feel a little better. I tried not to love it before I saw the first episode, but I failed. I was overly ecstatic Friday, March 31st when I knew the show would be waiting to be watched and evaluated when I arrived home from school. And then, I got home and watched seven episodes in one night, and if you’ve seen the show, you know that each episode is about an hour long and I had watched close to seven hours of television in one sitting. In all fairness, how could I stop? The show was exactly what I waited for. The casting was incredible! If there’s one perfect thing the show did, it was picking who would play all of the characters. From a damaged Hannah down to the old man in the car accident, the casting agents did a phenomenal job. Despite this, there was one thing that seemed kind of off to me when I immediately started the show. Clay is the one always riding his bike. In the book, Hannah is the one who rides her bike everywhere, and to me that seemed like a huge symbol. She was the one who needed her wheels to carry her through life and her decisions, and when she gave it away, she lost her motivation. In the show, Clay Jensen rides his bike to show his internal struggle instead of Hannah’s. While this bugged me for a while, it actually made sense. It’s one thing that the show illustrated better than the book. It showed me how Hannah got inside Clay’s head and how the bike reminded him of her, and while this wasn’t entirely true to the book, it was a refreshing addition. Another thing the show does even better than the book is it dramatizes everything to a larger extent. They turned scenes that were gut wrenching in the book to heart breaking in the series. Everything was sadder, and everything was more intense. It was beautiful and horrible to watch. I’m not going to get into extreme details because it’s something you need to watch and experience. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but in this case, seeing it was better than reading it. Painting a picture in your head is easy, but regardless of what the author says, you see it how you choose to see it. When they show you exactly what happens, you see it plain and clear, and although it is disturbing, it has to be shown. They could’ve gone without certain scenes, but it wouldn’t have gotten the message across as effectively. Suicide is a subject that’s simply breezed over by in health class, but it deserves much more than that. This show illustrates exactly what Jay Asher wanted people to see. He effectively got his point across: treat people like people. Hannah committed suicide because she felt like her soul was lost and she wasn’t human anymore, and this series reflects just how inhumane teenagers can be.

Now I can go on praising this show, but there is one factor that changed the score for it. The ending was horrendous. Skye is a suicidal character, and when they give her a line like “Suicide is for the weak,” it changes a lot. She is weak and broken, and that’s why in the book Clay reaches out to her. The book had a perfect ending, but because they changed this, the entire end was altered. SPOILER ALERT! They left tons of questions unanswered like, why did Tyler have all those guns? Does Alex survive? Where does Justin go? Does Bryce go to jail? How does Jessica deal with the rape? Does Courtney come out? Do the Bakers win the case against the school? It might be because of the thirteen episode limit that these questions weren’t answered, but they should have been. If their goal was to show the audience that Hannah’s suicide changed everyone’s lives, they should have finished it. If this was fixed, it would have made a perfect score.

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Book vs TV Show: Reviewing Thirteen Reasons Why