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?

2016 Reading Challenge: The Strain

Guys, I’ve held off with my reading challenge update because it’s going to come down to the wire! I know no one really cares if I complete it or not, but I came up with it. I want to finish! So I won’t tell you how close I am just yet.

My latest read was The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The story is eerily similar to that of I Am Legend. A virus tears across NYC and causes people to morph into vampires. Only in this story they are all controlled and connected to one another via The Master. A vampire hundreds of years old who can move from one host body to another whenever the need arises. An old pawnbroker, two epidemiologists, an exterminator, and a not-so-hardened criminal lead the fight against the vampire outbreak. But their most difficult opponent may very well be a wealthy businessman who has assisted The Master in exchange for eternal life.

First, I’m a big fan of the TV show based on this trilogy of books. So I did not go into this blind like I imagine readers before me did. But I still had some problems with it. The difference between this book and the other two vampire novels I’ve read (Dracula and I Am Legend) is that it goes from unbelievable to acceptance very quickly. The basis of the spread of the virus is a plane that arrives in NYC full of dead people. All but four people on board appear dead, except they’ve only been turned and not actually killed for good. It was only a night or two after this that the main characters of the story accepted that vampires were overrunning the city.

While reading this book I never felt invested in any of the characters. Which is saying something because it took me nearly 11 hours to finish! I didn’t like how chapters jumped from one perspective to another without any warning. I usually don’t mind if it’s done in different chapters rather than the same one. There was at least one 75 page chapter that I found ridiculous. 75 pages!

You’re reading this thinking I hated the book. I didn’t. I enjoyed it. The vampires are different from just about any I’ve ever imagined, which I already knew from the TV show. They had to be my favorite part of the book. Their brutality and gruesomeness is awesome, but so is the manner in which they’re killed. You have this old guy who walks around with a cane that isn’t really a cane. It’s a sword he uses to decapitate the vampires. He has an armory of weapons and devices he’s put together over the years as he waited for the war to begin.

I applaud the authors for their modern take on the vampire, but it did feel more like a copy than an original. The Count is still the greatest evil I’ve ever read in any book and Robert Neville fought the good fight ON HIS OWN. Those two books are simply on a different level from this one. This book wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. Maybe the other two books in the trilogy will be improvements. Overall I’d rate it about a 3.8 or 3.9 out of 5.

This book satisfied the requirement to read a book that’s your favorite color of my 2016 reading challenge.

What’s your favorite vampire novel!?

I Lied

I voted Trump.

HA! No. Never.

But for once it appears I’m letting my curiosity get the best of me. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies. I’m not sure we’ll see a series done so well over so many movies in some time. I saw the final three movies on opening night. I saw the final two at midnight. So maybe I haven’t read all of the books but I’ve loved every minute of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

And now Fantastic Beasts is tempting. See, y’all should know that I don’t see movies when they’re in theaters. The last one was Creed last December. I haven’t been in 2016. But the movie definitely looks intriguing AND I just found tickets for $4.99. I mean, my entire reasoning for not going to the movies is the absurd cost. Regular tickets are like $9. Then there’s 3D and IMAX and all kinds of crap that can potentially double the price of admission and it just drives me bonkers. But $5 isn’t so bad. I pay more when I buy a smoothie. Also, never buy food at the theater! I don’t.

Anyway, I’m thinking I might go see Fantastic Beasts next week. MIGHT. What about you?

Too Much, Just Too Much

It was announced this week that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will not be adapted into three movies as previously announced. I know what you’re thinking. One movie, then, right? Wrong. Five. FIVE MOVIES.

I’ve already said before that I think anything having the slightest connection to Harry Potter is simply being shoved in our faces. JK Rowling is a person just like you and I. And right now she still sees dollar signs for her work. I’d take full advantage if I owned something that would likely net me tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Sure. But it doesn’t mean everyone who loved the original movies and books will be stammering to get to theaters to see these movies.

I imagine they will do well, but the quality will likely be inferior to the original movies because there is one book setting the foundation for the movies rather than seven. I’ll be happy when there is nothing new related to Harry Potter.

Were you surprised when it was announced the tiny book would be adapted into a five film series?

The Numbers are in

Unfortunately the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a runaway hit. In its first ten days in release the book version of the script has sold more than 3.3 million copies in North America alone. At the times of my original post on here and when I made my video for the script I hadn’t actually read any of the script. But now I have. Just a few bits and pieces to get a feel for the writing itself. My conclusion is quite simple. The writing is terrible. If no one had known anything about how this play came about and read this it would be obvious on page one that it wasn’t written by Rowling.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Even with the great sales numbers they still don’t come close to the first day sales of Deathly Hallows, which sold more than 8 million copies in 2007. I’d say several factors are at play with the somewhat diminished numbers. First, it’s been nearly a decade since the final book was released. Second, this isn’t really a continuation of the series so many people know and love. Third, (and I saw this firsthand) a lot of people were unaware of this release. Fourth, the reviews. In my video last week I told y’all that it was rated 3.3 stars on Amazon after more than a thousand reviews. That trend is sticking. After more than 3000 reviews it is currently rated 3.4 stars out of 5. I think that number will stop people from buying who wanted to wait and see what initial readers thought of the script.

I’m hoping this doesn’t happen with the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them adaptations. Every one of the original Potter movies (like the books) was well received by viewers and critics alike, but hearing that a sequel is already in the works before the original is even released has me scratching my head. I mean, Warner Bros. just gave everyone the terrible trilogy they adapted from The Hobbit. Let’s hope they don’t make a habit of it.