'13 Reasons Why' Review from Someone Who Read the Book

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*

I'm going to go ahead and say it: I like the TV show more than the book (*ducks and covers*).

Yes, I know it's a very unpopular opinion to say that the screen version is better than the book, but it does happen. Before you jump all over me, I am an English creative writing major, a young adult writer, a screenwriter, and a book and television lover. I do know a little bit about what I'm talking about. And again, this is just my opinion.

However, I will say that I hate comparing books to movies or TV shows. It's important to know that they're two completely different forms of media. Yes, the movie isn't going to do the book justice because it's not the same thing! So if you expect for a movie to go perfectly with the book, I'm sorry but that's unrealistic.

13 Reasons Why, in my opinion, is better than the book because it does what the book doesn't completely do: it gave us the opportunity to see more than just Clay's point of view. We get to see Hannah's family's devastation, the group of kids who were on the tapes and what their thoughts and actions are as individuals, and we get deep into Hannah's head. Very deep.

Yes, the book was great and I encourage everyone to read it. However, I think the story it tells in screenplay conveys the message better.

Now that that's over, let's first talk about the issues surrounding 13 Reasons Why

The book by Jay Asher has been challenged and banned since its release. Many cite the drug use, sex, rape, and suicide as causes for the ban. When 13 Reasons Why was announced as the newest Netflix original series, it sparked some resistance similar to that of the book's.

Many claim that the show glorifies suicide as Hannah's tapes create an enticing mystery, and made those who caused her death feel guilty, providing a type of satisfaction. If you've seen the show all the way through, you know this is far from the cause. Yes, I'm talking about that scene in the finale that still has my skin crawling. Hannah slices her wrists in the bathtub, having her parents walk in and finding her, her mother pulling her out of the tub and into her arms, her dad frantically running into the room. It far from glorifies suicide.

The series of course also shows what happens before the suicide. Going between present and past, we see what led to Hannah's suicide and then how it affected those in the community as well as those who loved her. We know when we're in the past because the colors are bright, while the present shows dark grey colors.

Clay, the protagonist, goes through the tapes Hannah has recorded listing reasons for her suicide. Clay is shocked he's on the tapes, but what he discovers is that he's on the tapes because he didn't help Hannah. That's when he finally decides to do something that no one else did: stand up for her. He and his friend Tony (aka Unhelpful Yoda), unleash a bomb at the end when they tape Bryce's confession, expose everyone, and release the tapes. 

I'm glad Netflix is the one who took on the project. Netflix allows profanity and sex and everything in-between. Why is that important for this show? Well, it's about suicide, and it's about a bunch of high school kids. This show portrays them in the most realistic way I’ve seen.

My freshman year of high school was almost eight years ago. Man, I feel old.

I do remember most of my high school experience. Who doesn't? This show took me back to that place, back to inside the walls of my teenage years, and it reminded me of what goes on inside those walls. I knew someone who mirrored each of the characters in show. I knew someone who was experiencing the same things they were. I knew people who were Hannah. We were all Hannah in some ways. We at least shared some of the same emotions.

Hannah took hit after hit. Being without a friend was the major reason why everything went so wrong. She had friends, but for brief periods of time before they betrayed her. We all know what that's like. Hannah really did nothing wrong expect choose the wrong guy, the wrong friends, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

It was the small stuff that led up to Hannah buying the pack of razor blades. Bryce's rape and Mr. Porter were just the last straw. She couldn't take anymore. This is also why I'm glad it's an episodic series instead of a movie. In each episode, we see the little things that kept piling up, turning into big things, that ultimately led to Hannah's death.

Another important thing the show did was show victim blaming, and the blurred lines of sexual assault. The book does this too, but in the show we get to see more than just what's from Clay's and Hannah's point of view.

Jessica, being drunk at her own party, is incompetent, yet according to her boyfriend, Justin, is very willing to have sex with him. Then, Bryce, seeing Jessica unconscious on the bed, bullies his way past Justin and into the room to rape her. Justin denies the latter happened, and Jessica denies that Justin did anything wrong despite the fact that she never consented. At the end, she figures it all out, but is still scared to come forward about it. This sadly happens all the time.

Hannah is assaulted in many ways. Justin starting the rumor, the list made about her, the ass grabbing, the photos of her kissing Courtney, Marcus forcing himself on her, and then the actual rape in Bryce's hot tub.

When Hannah goes to her school counselor, Mr. Porter, she is subject to victim blaming. Mr. Porter first asks Hannah if she was under the influence when the rape took place. Then he asks her if she ever actually said no. Then he tells her to forget about it since Bryce will be graduating and she'll never have to see him again. This is victim blaming, folks, and it was the final stab to the heart for Hannah.

What’s going to happen now? Alex has been shot, but we don’t know if it was suicide or by the hands of someone else. Who answered Alex’s phone? Where is Justin going with his gun? Will Tyler shoot up the school? What happens with Bryce after his confession is heard? Will it be heard? What happens to Jessica after she comes forward? Will Courtney come out? What happens after Clay drops the bomb? What the hell does Tony have to do with any of this or is he some sketchy thirty year old undercover cop? So many questions!

13 Reasons Why is one of the most important shows Netflix has come out with. It shows the realistic aspects of high school, bullying, sexual assault, and suicide. It's important because it's all too true.