I've made no secret of the fact that Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is one of my favourite books of all time so I was really looking forward to this adaptation.
Adapting books to screen is always a very interesting process, especially as with YA books producers and script writers are still really struggling with how to move the narrator's voice over effectively. 13 Reasons Why is lucky in that Hannah's narration is the literal essence of the plot, you cannot have the story without it, however when transferring to screen you can just watch it. I think this did a great job of knowing when to show not tell and vice versa.
This story was expanded on in many ways, some of which I liked, some of which I definitely did not. In order to move the story along due to Clay somehow not listening to these tapes overnight like he did in the books, there's a subplot in the current day. Additionally, the order of the tapes have been moved around, but I actually thought that was an interesting change, especially when being moved to a visual medium. To have characters after Clay that don't know what they've done doesn't really work as well.
More after the jump!
So, the two subplots are that Hannah's parents are suing the school and that the kids on the tape before Clay are all trying to ensure their reputations stay intact. The second story line just made me so glad I'm out of high school. It can be a terrible place. Some changes were obviously necessary as it takes place more than 10 years after the book came out and tapes were basically obsolete then too, but I am very glad they stuck to the tapes thing.
Thirteen Reasons Why has some very heavy material. 13 Reasons Why deals with it magnificently. I especially liked the trigger warnings at the beginning of the relevant episodes, you never know when someone needs to mentally prepare themselves to watch something. I've read the book at least three times and somehow watching these events happen to Hannah shows the effect on her so much more because you can't stop your brain from going too far. It was also much more fascinating on screen to see hive culture amongst teens and how it's so easy to not see what you could be doing to someone else.
It seemed at times like Netflix was looking to expand to a second series which is...odd. A second series would of course be completely off book and potentially intriguing but I think this should be a one and done. Coming off that, hats off to the wonderful cast. They all embodied they're characters wonderfully and brought additional dimensions too. I remember when this was first being discussed as a movie and Selena Gomez was attached to play Hannah and I was very sad because I LOVED her but she didn't feel like Hannah. Katherine Langford is pitch perfect as Hannah. Dylan Minnette is a perfect Clay and so on and so forth. Additionally, the cast was amazingly diverse, and at no point did it feel like it was done for the sake of it. So, fun fact, colour blind casting works. To go from all white suburban kids to this cast is not only amazing but incredibly reaffirming for audiences who won't only consist of white suburban kids.
Character wise: Clay is an angel, a cinnamon roll, whatever term the kids are using today. I'm sure that's partially something that Dylan brought to the roll because even though I've always loved Clay (really not that hard when you look at the rest of the demon kids), he never seemed as naive to me before. TONY, Tony, Tony. Um, where did this new adaptation come from? He was awesome, although I will say neither the book or the episodes ever explicitly say why he was seen as so trustworthy to Hannah.
Even though the story definitely dragged at some points, it was a pretty faithful adaptation with additions that really fleshed out the story.
The main takeaway from this story is: Kids can be cruel, remember somebody loves you, even if they don't always remember to say it. Below are some numbers to call if you feel alone 💙💜💛💚
Rating: 4 stars
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