We often find ourselves feel a tinge of disappointment when we hear our favorite novel will be turned into a television or film adaptation. We are hesitant to entrust our beloved books to yet another Hollywood production. Sure, there is that excitement to see these stories brought to life, but audiences will inevitably speak the words, “Yeah it was good, but the book was better.” There are very few projects that overcome this expectation and let me tell you, 13 Reasons Why is one of them. From the carefully selected cast to the high quality in production, the latest series truly captures the essence of Jay Asher’s novel, making you want to binge-watch until you reach the climactic end (as I may have done).
For a quick rundown, the intense series follows the aftermath of the suicide of Hannah Baker. As the school mourns the late teenager’s death, we find Clay Jensen come into possession of a shoebox of cassette tapes Hannah leaves behind in which she identifies the 13 reasons why she killed herself (hence the show’s name). Interestingly, the tapes are passed around in a chain-like letter system to the 13 people on the tapes. From here, it follows Jensen on his quest to discover the truth behind Hannah’s suicide.
Prior to viewing, audiences may expect a cliché teenage drama. However, the compelling series proves as much more than that. What I find so astounding about the novel-inspired-series is the mass appeal it has on young adults. The show does not shy from addressing matters that deal with touchy subjects. We are given visuals of every injustice that is enacted on Hannah Baker, even seeing her graphic suicide. From movies like Cyberbully to Heathers, the subjects of bullying and suicide have been touched on, but none quite like this. Any individual, no matter the age, can directly relate to this story. The story in all is alarmingly real and told very intricately.
With the overarching theme of repercussions, we see the “butterfly effect” on Hannah’s life. From Justin’s seemingly harmless embellishment of the night Hannah and him kissed to Hannah’s name on Alex’s list, it is clear that everything affects everything. To quote Hannah Baker herself, “You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.”
It truly highlights on the importance of recognizing the consequences of our actions and the how it affects the lives of others. We must learn to be more mindful.
Ultimately, like Clay, you will be in constant suspense, wanting to finish the tapes. Unlike Clay, you’ll finish in only a couple days.