Thirteen Reasons Why better as book


Madeline Henderson, Staff Writer

Thirteen Reasons Why, a new Netflix Original, came out on on March 31. The show was based on the novel by Jay Asher, who visited Oxford High School last year.

The book the show was based off of was well written with a poignant message; however,the show was not as eloquent. If you read the book, this show will not sit well with you.

The premise of the story is that a high school junior, named Hannah Baker, has committed suicide. Instead of leaving behind a note, she left behind thirteen tapes explaining the thirteen reasons she chose to end her life. These tapes are passed around among the thirteen people she saw as culpable. The story is told through the eyes of Clay Jensen, a boy who had feeling for Hannah throughout high school.

In the novel, Clay listens to all of the tapes in one night. In the show, it takes him weeks to listen to them all. The show simply created drama to make the story more interesting, which felt rather unnecessary. The show easily could have been shot this way instead of adding drama that didn’t actually occur. The accessory drama felt crowded into the plot, and seemed to take away from the overall story.

The whole message of the book was suicide isn’t the answer, and to be aware of those who may feel suicidal. While it is good that the show has increased awareness, and encouraged recognition that even the smallest actions have consequences, it really missed the mark. In the novel, Hannah had obvious signs of needing help, and even reached out, but her community didn’t recognize her need or take her seriously. After her death and after listening to the tapes, Clay came to recognize these same characteristics in an old friend, and he begins looking out for her in a way he wished he had for Hannah. Hannah’s death shouldn’t have happened, but her life didn’t mean nothing. Because of her, this other girl’s struggle was recognized.

In Netflix’s version, no such values were displayed. Clay had a loose grip on reality, was quick to anger, and was often on a crusade of revenge. The novel did not promote revenge and anger in response, but kindness. The book wanted people to realize that their actions had consequences, and to be aware of the impact they had on others. While it seems natural for retribution to be the response to some of the wrongs done in this story, Clay carrying them out was entirely unrealistic for his character. The only thing I found impressive about the Netflix version, besides the awareness it has raised, was the soundtrack. I found the acting to be subpar, the plot to be ridiculously inflated and over dramatic, and the message to have been lost in the mix. I really enjoyed the novel, but I cannot say the same for the show.