Thirteen Reasons Why: A Comparison

Earlier this year I happened upon the adaptation of this book on Netflix. I was just minding my business scrolling through the menu and happened to see it as a new release. I knew nothing about it. But I recall it being an early Saturday afternoon and I was doing nothing. One episode wouldn’t hurt. I watched. Again. Again. And again. Until I’d managed to get through the entire season the following evening.

Soon thereafter I bought the book. I made it halfway through and then simply stopped. It wasn’t because I was not interested or it was poorly written, I just have these periods almost every year.

I finished it last night.

I’d rate the show as five stars. I know some call it controversial, but I’m not part of that faction. I’m of the opinion that we need to have a conversation about the topics discussed in the book. All of them. But we aren’t. Not until it’s too late and tragedy has struck. The show began one of those conversations.

But this is one of those extremely rare cases in which the adaptation is better than the original. At least in my opinion. Clay Jenson comes off as accusatory throughout the book. He almost appears to blame Hannah for everything that’s led her to make her final choice. The book also focuses entirely on Clay’s perspective, whereas I think the show gives a bit more from the other involved characters.

I won’t get into every single detail in the book I had an issue with. I still rated it three stars. The show showed us the anguish and isolation Hannah experienced. The book struggled to do the same.

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Adaptations Everywhere

They’re everywhere. Every time I read a story about a new show or miniseies it appears to have been adapted from a book. I’m trying to figure out if this has been the case for decades or if I’m just more aware of it now.

Think of movies. Think of TV series. Think of what you see created by Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. So much of their content is adapted from books. Cable networks and streaming services seem more likely to adapt books into something else, but broadcast networks jump into the mix too.

This isn’t meant to be a criticism. Authors are wonderful. But it makes you wonder if there are authors more concerned with the adaptability of their work than the quality of it.

Another Person Hooked on “Thirteen Reasons Why”

I think my mom was actually the first in my family to have a Netflix account. Several years ago. But then that account was canceled. I think. And now I’m the only one besides other brothers and sisters with an account.

This weekend my mom was searching for something to watch on Netflix and I had to recommend something. I recommended the adaptation from Jay Asher’s bestselling novel. She watched the first three episodes last night and I think she’s really looking to continue the series throughout this week. I think I should be given a referral from Netflix. What do you guys think? 

Remaking a Classic

I’m probably the only person who has never read any Stephen King novel and has never seen one of the adaptations from his books all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces, but I’ve never sat down and watched from start to finish.

Now It is happening again. Not having seen the original movie or read the book I’ve gathered that there’s a clown terrorizing kids. I think. I’m not sure why or how or what exactly is going on. I do know it’s horror. Right?

I recently watched the trailer for the new movie. To me it looks like any other horror story that involves a single person or thing. Like Chucky. I know he was a killer and usually those single characters are, but I have no idea if this clown is too. I’d assume so. Otherwise what is there to be scared of?

Have I been missing out on It? The book was published thirty years ago. The movie came out shortly thereafter. I know nothing about either. 

On “Thirteen Reasons Why”

SPOILERS AHEAD

I posted yesterday about starting the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why. The series is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher.

I watched all 13 episodes in two days. I’ve not read the book, but after watching the first season I imagine the book is incredible.

The themes of the story include suicide, bullying, and rape. There’s more but this post would be 10,000 words if I discussed all of them.

Hannah Baker commits suicide after a series of events leads her to believe her life is no longer worth living. One event was a picture of her in an unflattering position sent around her school. Another was that she witnessed her friend get raped. Another was her own rape by the same student. The final event was that her counselor was unhelpful in her final reach for help.

Hannah records 13 tapes describing the things that were done to her in the time leading up to her suicide. Those tapes are given to the people mentioned on them after her death.

What’s most devastating about the story is that it isn’t really fiction. Rape and sexual assault may not happen at every middle and high school, but bullying? Yes. Cyberbullying? Yes. Verbal abuse? Yes.

Kids and teens are brutal. There’s no reason to question this. How many people don’t talk about their time in high school or college because they’re ashamed of the things they were doing at the time?

We have a president on tape bragging about sexual assault. What’s worse is 60+ million people STILL voted for him. It’s hard to address serious topics like sexual assault and rape if it’s being normalized.

No form of bullying is ever okay. No form of sexual assault is ever okay. No rape is ever okay. Depression and anxiety can be incredibly difficult things to deal with on your own. If you or someone you know is ever having urges to self-harm or commit suicide, then talk. Talk to a friend. Talk to a family member. Talk to a teacher. Talk to someone. Because then that burden is no longer on the shoulders of one individual.

You can speak to someone anonymously 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

This story is so much more than a story. It’s a wake up call to people who downplay the consequences of bullying and sexual violence. Why is it so hard to believe that people can push others to believe that death is the only solution to their pain and angst? Why is it so hard to believe that people who commit suicide were failed by people, policies, and institutions? Why is it so hard to DISCUSS suicide?

Just a couple of years ago someone told me they were having suicidal thoughts. But that person wasn’t nearby. I couldn’t just get in my car and go help. I told that person to speak with someone. Any one. I never told them, but I was terrified. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do enough. That I might text the wrong thing and make things worse. I don’t know for sure how that person ultimately handled their depression, but I do know they’re doing quite well now.

This story is the heartbreaking stories we see on the news every week. But it serves to show us all that we are not alone in our struggles. Even when things are at their absolute worst, someone will be there. The title of the book refers to 13 reasons why Hannah took her life. But it could just as easily refer to 13 people or things that could have saved it. Every human life is precious. Every single one. Yet we find ourselves valuing some more than others, and not valuing others at all.

This book is immensely popular. Please tell me your thoughts.

A Pleasant Surprise

I’m not always the biggest fan of literary adaptations, although there are definitely exceptions. Yesterday afternoon I opened up Netflix to see if there was any documentary I might be interested in watching. Before I even browsed the documentaries I came across something else. Thirteen Reasons Why.

I may be mistaken, but I think this book is assigned in some schools in my area. I’ve never read it but I know it’s still popular a decade after publication. I had no idea what the book was about. Then I watched the first episode.

What I’ve watched so far (6 episodes) reminds me of Looking for Alaska. There’s a death. And everyone is trying to piece together what happened.

I’ve enjoyed the series. I’ll always enjoy a book that hits on relevant topics. Suicide prevention and bullying will always be important topics to stay informed about, and those two things are at the forefront of this book.

Have you read the book or watched the Netflix series? Thoughts?

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I have a bit of a special relationship with this series. In elementary school my art teacher would play the audiobooks while we worked. I believe it’s also how I was first introduced to Harry Potter.

I’ve never read the books. I definitely don’t remember any of the stories from 13-15 years ago. The one thing that has stuck with me is that I know I enjoyed listening to the stories.

Now Netflix has adapted the first couple of books in season 1 of its new series. It may be time to read the first few books and watch the series. I mean, a trip down memory lane never hurt anyone.

What’s your experience with this series?