In this post, I am going to review both the book and the Netflix series ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’. When the Netflix series was released I was put off watching it because of the negative reviews I had seen and people online were saying it was really graphic. I ended up reading the book first so I knew the storyline. After reading the book I decided it didn’t sound too bad so I watched the series on Netflix.
The storyline- A teenager called Clay Jensen finds a mysterious box addressed to him lying on his porch. Inside the box, he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by a girl who is also his crush called Hannah Baker. Hannah committed suicide a few weeks earlier and she explains on the tapes the thirteen reasons why she killed herself and Clay is one of them.
The book- The book is written by Jay Asher. I am 19 and I think that it is aimed at a much younger audience but this didn’t stop me from enjoying it. This book has a very interesting narrative so I read it very quickly as I wanted to find out what happened next. I had never read anything like this before so I found it very interesting. The suicide rate is far too high for teenagers(and adults), I think this book raises awareness of suicide. The book goes through the symptoms on how to notice someone who may be suicidal. Hannah’s story will open the eyes of a lot of people and her story teaches people to be nicer, think before they do something as actions always have consequences, you never know what someone is going through.
Netflix- The series was definitely entertaining and I constantly wanted to find out what was going to happen next. It was slightly different to the book in quite a few ways. The first thing I noticed when watching the series was that there was a lot more character development which is good because this meant you got to know the characters more. In the book, Jay Asher didn’t specify what race the characters were but in the series, the characters are very ethnically diverse. There are Black, Asian and Latino characters, this is good because it is increasing the representation shown on American high school shows. There are also multiple LGBT characters in the show. Although both these LGBT and ethnic characters aren’t always represented in a positive light, they are not stereotyped or ‘token’ characters’ either.
Regarding the issues of the series being too graphical and how it romanticizes mental health, I definitely agree. In the book, Hannah kills herself by taking pills and in the series, she self-harms and bleeds to death. I myself didn’t watch this scene as blood makes me feel nauseous, although I have been told it is pretty bad. There were parts of this series that wasn’t in the book, and I felt these scenes were not necessary as they would have been triggering for people and the book was fine without them. A massive difference between the film and the book was the target audience. Whilst I would say the book is targeted at 13+ readers, the Netflix series was given an 18+ rating, I would definitely not recommend young teens to watch the Netflix series for multiple reasons.
Overall, I think the book was a good read and the series was a very good watch. Arguments accumulate whether or not the book and series portray mental health issues correctly. I understand where people are coming from when they say that the Netflix series romanticizes mental health. However, both the book and the series have good and bad parts. I think it depends on the person but I would not recommend reading or watching if you suffer from severe mental health illness.
Let me know in the comments what you thought xx