I read Thirteen Reasons Why when I was 15 which was such a long time ago. I knew the TV show was coming on Netflix but I decided not to reread the book. My reasoning? I couldn't handle it. Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those rare books (like The Book Thief) that I can only read once in a blue moon because the emotions don't hit me the same. In this review I'll be saying a lot of "I don't remember this person doing this or acting this way." I do this because I can't tell if it's been added or if it's from the story because it's been so long. Don't worry. I won't ruin anything but I will talk about each character and my reaction to them (So if you didn't know who the reasons why Hannah committed suicide and don't want to know skip that part) So basically - beware spoilers below. That part is more for the people who've read the book.
Warning: This show can be triggering. People who feel depressed, suicidal, or who have been sexually abused may find the show to be too much. I would be cautious if you know you aren't in the right head space to watch it without your own feelings getting mixed in. Be careful.
Hannah Baker is the star of the show even if she's not around in the present tense. She's the narrator to her own death and Clay is the reader (listener in this case). The thing with Hannah is that this time around you get to hear from all the other reasons why she committed suicide so things felt jumbled up. There were moments where there was victim blaming by the reasons saying how she was just drama.
At some points, I don't know how, I kind of swayed to that POV of her being drama which is ridiculous really but it's a testament to how the writers are able to make you feel connected to what each character feels. The only one defending themselves were the kids who she said were the reasons why she killed herself. She could never defend herself in front of them. So I gravitated to what the reasons were saying about her which feels very true to life. Rumors can kill and in this case it did.
You get to have flashbacks of Hannah with everyone. The most rewarding time was when she would have flashbacks with Clay who she always seems to forget about.
When I recall Clay, I can only remember wanting to hug him. Clay doesn't know why he's on the tape and you quickly think the same. Clay made a lot more mistakes than I ever remember him making. It felt unbelievable. Things I never would have believed he would do.
Clay becomes erratic in his behavior. His behavior bothered me so much because it felt like he was going crazy with grief and pain and anger. But on the flip side he had the right behavior too.
The writing in this script was pure genius. One moment in particular had me praising the way Clay was reacting to the whole situation.
You FEEL Clay's pain.
Was Clay always so awkward? He is an awkward jelly bean in his flashbacks. Again, he makes so many mistakes or doesn't react correctly.
I do not remember Tony being so important in the book as he is now. The fateful moment yes, but Tony (the one making sure the tapes are listened to. If they aren't he sends them out in the world and ruins everyone's life on it.) was never on my radar to watch. This Tony is so crucial to the story. He's always watching and always tries to encourage Clay to finish the tapes. I didn't expect to feel so connected to his character until I just did. There is so much more to him than I initially thought. His connection to Hannah is an eye opening one.
Justin: The Problematic One
Justin's change throughout the show is a remarkable one. He has some issues at home and the way he deals with the tapes is telling. There were moments I couldn't stand him but other moments where I felt sorry for him. He was a very conflicting character for me.
Jessica: The Game Changer
Wow Jessica. Girl, I did not expect to care about you. She's Justin's boyfriend and you see her unraveling. The unravel is extreme and intense.
Alex: The Fave
The boy from Parenthood plays Alex remarkably.
ALL of the characters are played beautifully.
Alex is the one who feels guilty the whole time. I do not remember a lot of moments in the show compared to the book with him. I believe a lot was added to his character and I am so happy it was. What the aftermath did to everyone showed their true colors and his true colors made some great scenes.
Did you know his father was a cop? That comes up and oh it hurts my heart to think about it.
Tyler: The Weird Kid
Completely did not remember this boy but when they got to him a whole chain of subplot started happening. He is the boy who is bullied. But he was on Hannah's list for a reason.
Marcus: The Golden Boy
Marcus and some others started forming a group for reasons... Marcus is on his way to getting into the top schools because of his grades and athleticism. He is one to watch out for because he became the leader of the little group.
Courtney: The Worst
Literally, the worst. THE WORST. I know I can't say that with one of the characters being completely evil but WOW. You will want to throw things at this girl. I loved how these characters were developed. You get to see their personalities and their motives. And Courtney's personality is incredibly selfish.
Zach: The Quiet One
Another character that made me love how each character was developed. He's a surprise.
Ryan: The Gossip
Do not remember this kid but he does a very shady thing. A recurring theme in the show is how selfish people are. No one cares about anyone but themselves. You don't know how your actions are going to affect others.
Sheri: The Unassuming One
Sheri is toward the end of the tapes. She arrives earlier on though. She just comes in the story all of a sudden and I couldn't remember her until the flashback. She is the type of person to walk away because they are scared. She was worrisome because I could see me in her. I would never do what she did but she's one that got to me too personally being the straight laced person that she is.
Bryce: That Guy
I can't talk about Bryce.
The counselor is in the whole story and I was like Oooh!!!! every time I saw him knowing what he did.
The parents are in the story and they are dying inside. The mother especially has lost her spirit. To see what she is going through after she has lost her child is making me teary eyed just thinking about it. She is on a hunt to find why Hannah did what she did. The actress completely destroyed me in one scene towards the end. She will get to you eventually.
The dad isn't at the mom's level in the beginning but picks up later when he sees how the school is treating them and their daughter's death.
Clay's mom and dad notice things have changed with Clay but don't realize why. I can't say enough by the actress who plays his mom. She does such an excellent job. Let me reiterate how AMAZING all the actors are because they are phenomenal. Clay and his interactions with both his parents are so different. His dad doesn't see a problem but the mom knows something is wrong.
I don't remember Jeff for the life of me but when they really talk about him it got to me. I am still so sad about Jeff. Another scene that broke me down.
People don't realize that words and actions mean something. People are cruel. You don't have to be one of them. I recommend this to high schoolers all around the world whether you think you are a good person or not.
If you read the book you know who this is. She is in the show a lot more. Her side to everything is so interesting.
It does look like that there may be a season and there is a reason to believe there will be by the way the story ends. It bothers me Clay's part to play in it all. I would love to know what happens to a lot of characters in this show. There is so much that happens towards the end that could affect the rest of each characters lives. Here's hoping it happens.
I came. I watched. I loved. You should do the same. (I know this was more of a reaction than a review but just go watch the show already.)
Have you read or watched Thirteen Reasons Why?
What did you think about the story?