During the past few months, a certain TV show has taken over social media: Thirteen Reasons Why. Based on the novel by Jay Asher, the show tells the tale of Hannah Baker and her reasons for committing suicide. In the novel, the story is told in a back and forth format between Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker (in the form of tapes recorded by Hannah prior to her death). As he listens to Hannah's tapes, Clay discovers how the cruelty of bullying can destroy a person's confidence and hope.
After watching the TV show and reading the book, I noticed a few key differences between the two. Which one did I enjoy more? Keep reading to find out! Please note that there may be spoilers in this article for the purpose of providing a full and honest review. If you have not read the book and/or seen the show, continue with caution!
Interestingly enough, I actually read the book AFTER watching the show. I usually try not to do that, but yes, it happened. Here are some of my thoughts on the book.
•I LOVED the back-and-forth between Hannah and Clay. It was gut-wrenching to read all of Clay's reactions to Hannah's final words.
• In the novel, Clay listens to all of the tapes in one night. This packed an emotional punch, but I did not see character development for any of the characters except Hannah.
•You don't find out how Hannah dies. There are some hints that "maybe" she took pills or drowned herself, but nothing is ever defined. The primary focus is on why she died and not how.
• Adults have a very limited presence in the novel.
The TV Show:
• Clay listens to the tapes over the course of many days and becomes increasingly angry at the other individuals mentioned on the tapes.
• Hannah is shown with slit wrists in a scene in the school's gymnasium. Later on, her suicide is shown graphically as the camera does not shy away from the blood and devastation. There are also two rape scenes, both of which are very graphic and disturbing.
• Both Clay's and Hannah's parents have decent roles in the show. While they are slightly clueless to what Clay is going through, they notice he seems "off" and express a desire to help him. Meanwhile, Hannah's parents perfectly portray a grieving mother and father. Their scenes will tear apart the souls of viewers. The pain in their eyes is visible, and they accurately depict the devastation suicide causes in a family.
• Each character featured on a tape develops as the show goes on. While I understand it would have been hard to do so in the book, I really appreciated how I was able to see the stories behind each side character in the show.
After watching the show and reading the books, I have to say I found both to be equally enticing. They both successfully depict the tragedy that can occur as a result of bullying and how suicide can impact a family and community. Both also acknowledge how our actions impact others, so we should treat our peers with kindness and compassion.
As for Hannah's suicide, I have noticed it is a widely debated topic on the internet. In the book, her methods are not described in detail. Meanwhile, the TV show leaves nothing up to the imagination. The scene in the show creates a saddening and raw image of the pain and hopelessness felt by a suicidal individual. With this kept in mind, I was happy to see a trigger warning before the episode because the scene was VERY graphic.
So, to wrap it up, how do I rate the show and the book? Well, here are my final ratings:
Thirteen Reasons Why (book): 4/5
Thirteen Reasons Why (TV show): 5/5
WHAT? The show is ranked higher than the book? Typically, I would not rate this way. Both the book and the show were INCREDIBLE, but I really appreciated the character development and side plots in the show. While I rated the show higher, I really, really recommend the book as well. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Do you prefer the book or the show?