Friday, April 14, 2017

13 Reasons Why - Book/TV Review & Comparison

Author: Jay Asher

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker-his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Thoughts: Having read Thirteen Reasons Why when it first came out in 2007, I wanted to read it again before the Netflix TV adaptation was released and I loved this book both times. This book covers the very tough topic of teenage suicide. Hearing a girl talk about her reasons for committing suicide is not an easy thing to get through, but I think that this book handles it very well. I also thought that hearing everything through one persons POV allows you to feel like you are listening to those tapes yourself. Clay couldn't stop listening to the tapes just like I couldn't stop reading this book. It's heartbreaking, but addictive at the same time.  This book is also nice and short, making it SO easy to fly through. I never wished it was any longer because I think that what needed to be said, was said. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who likes mental health or contemporary novels.
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Network: Netflix

Genre: Drama

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: See above

My Thoughts: This TV adaptation was so different than the book, but it still did an excellent job of keeping its essence. What Netflix did was take the concept of the book and expanded it to a whole new level. Throughout the first couple of episodes, I was very apprehensive and unsure about how I felt about the changes. However, the show very quickly grew on me. At first I was concerned with the way that suicide was being portrayed. I was afraid that it seemed like the show was glamorizing suicide. Without spoiling anything, there was actually a moment in one of the earlier episodes where I almost decided I couldn't finish watching the show. I am so glad that I did though, because after finishing this first season, my opinion of the show has made a complete 180 degree turn.

13 Reasons Why was so raw and beautiful. I was nearly crying every episode. The thing you get out of the TV show that you never got out of the book was a deep connection and understanding of the 13 people on those tapes. We got to know them and their side of the story. We got to see their families and what might have been going on in their lives. Some of these people you learned to feel compassion for, while others still left you loathing them. Getting this opportunity was more than I could have ever imagined for this TV show. This show also set up so many great cliffhangers and possible storylines for season two. As of right now, a season two has not been given a greenlight, but I sincerely hope that they get it. I NEED to know what happens next. Around the middle of the first season, I could see certain things they were setting up and I got the idea of how we could expand this book into a whole new thing. The book covers how Hannah's death impacts one person on a deeply personal level. But how does her death impact the rest of the 13, her parents, the school, and the local culture. I would love to see where the writers could go with this.

As someone who read the book right when it came out and has been waiting for an adaptation of the book for nearly seven years, I cannot be more proud of this TV show. I enjoyed it so, so much. I cried, I cheered, I even cringed... but it was an absolutely beautiful ride. The wait was so worth it... I don't think it would have been the same if it was a movie rather than a TV show, or if it was made with different actors, or if it was made with a network other than Netflix. While I would love to recommend this TV show to everyone, I would be remiss if I didn't caution you. There are very graphic depictions of rape, bullying, and violence (not to mention suicide). If any of those items are triggering to you, please think carefully before starting this show. Otherwise, please enjoy! I sincerely think this is one of the best shows Netflix has released to date.

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