I listened to the audiobook of this story last year and I reread this a few weeks before the show came out. I intended to review the book last year and I reread it to write a book review before the show came out but even though this book has impacted me so much and has kept me thinking for days, I just couldn’t express my thoughts on it without it sounding like gibberish. I love this book, and I think it’s fantastic and so, so important but I don’t know how to express that. I can’t say it’s beautiful, because it’s not – it’s horrifying. I can’t say that I liked the characters because well, I didn’t. There’s so much to say about the book, but I just couldn’t explain how I feel about it eloquently.
However, I digress. This post is about the Netflix adaptation of the book written by Jay Asher, produced by Selena Gomez. This post has no spoilers, don’t worry. My spoiler-y discussion will be up tomorrow and when it is I’ll link it here.
The story of the show and the book are somewhat similar – Hannah Baker commits suicide, she leaves 13 tapes for the thirteen people who were the reason she wanted to kill herself. Clay Jensen, Hannah’s coworker and friend receives the tapes and both the book and the show follow his journey listening to the tapes. The events of the book are only of a single night as Clay listens to the tapes in rapid succession but in the show, he takes his time as he cannot listen to a tape for a long time without getting mildly terrified. Like Clay, I took a while to finish the show because I couldn’t keep watching for an extended period of time because it gave me chills.
Since the show spans over a longer period of time, it also delves into all the characters’ lives a lot more. The book is just about Clay and his experiences with Hannah but the show tells the story from everyone else’s point of view as well. That was a great addition to the original story as it added depth to everyone’s character and made them all so real. They all had things going on in their lives which drove them to do what they did and I’ll be honest, I hated all of the other characters while reading the book but on watching the show, I understand them better. I still don’t love them all, but I understand that they didn’t mean to hurt Hannah, they were mostly just looking out for themselves. But quoting the show, “Everything effects everything.” The show’s portrayal of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is fantastic and is going to make everyone who watches it really think about what they say or do to people because you never know what someone else is going through. Another really good addition to the show is that all the characters’ parents have an important role in the story. I loved that they added that in the show!
The acting in the show is phenomenal. All the actors played their parts incredibly. I hated the ones I was supposed to hate and I felt for the ones that were a little bit lost. They all really got into their roles which made the show feel all the more realistic. Something else that I noticed was the diversity of the cast. I don’t really remember how the characters were described in the book but I liked that they were more diverse in the show. There were times when I genuinely had to remind myself that I’m not looking at a real high school and all the things that were happening in the show are fictitious. The fact that it was so realistic and believable made it all the more scary for me because there may just be people going through something like Hannah is and that, for lack of a better word, sucks. That really, really sucks.
Every episode is structured really nicely with equal amounts of the past and the present without mixing them up. The transitions between Hannah’s experiences on the tapes and Clay’s in the present are flawless. There are some parts when Clay bikes to a place that Hannah talks about so it looks like Clay is looking at what was happening to Hannah – those scenes are shot beautifully. If I hadn’t read the book, I definitely would have found it quite mysterious as well because each episode ends with a bit of a teaser for the next one.
I think this show is very important but at the same time, I don’t recommend that everyone goes and watches it because it is quite dark and disturbing at times. It talks about suicide, bullying, mental health, rape, drug abuse and a lot of serious issues that are very relevant to today’s youth. There are a few really intense scenes in the last three or four episodes which I found difficult to watch and I will admit, I cried a lot while watching this. It definitely hit harder actually seeing everything happening instead of reading it or listening to an audiobook.
This story is heartbreaking, thought provoking and very, very important. If you think you can handle it, I recommend you watch it but if you can’t, that’s okay because it’s not for everyone. It ends rather abruptly so I’m hoping there’s a second season.
Have you read the book? Have you seen the show? Which do you prefer? What were your thoughts on the show? If you haven’t seen it yet, do you plan on watching it?