13 Reasons Why: Netflix Vs. Book

It’s back! Season 2 is here!

And I know I definitely have mixed feelings about that. As of now, I’ve yet to devour the new series (I’m sure I’ll make light work of it in a couple of days), so thought it would be a good time to reflect on season 1 and the book it’s based on, the novel of the same name by Jay Asher.

I watched the Netflix show first, yes I’m one of those, and to be honest, I prefer it. Whilst it definitely touches on some super deep issues which left me feeling really unsettled, that’s the whole point – to get people thinking and talking about these issues we usually like to pretend don’t exist until we have to.

So I’ve been trying to work out why I loved it.

There’s the way the story unwinds and totally justifies a second watch-through, and don’t even get me started on THAT song (you have so much to answer for Lord Heron).

But the book is subtly different. So for your curiosity, here’s the run down on the differences in the Netflix Adaptation:

Clay listens to all the tapes in one night.

Let’s face it, this is much more realistic. When you know you’re on a list of reasons why the girl you loved killed herself, wouldn’t you speed through those tapes as fast as humanely possible to get to your own?But dragging it out allows for character development and extra drama and story lines i.e. better TV (Netflix).

Tony is gay.

This differs from the books, where his sexuality isn’t mentioned (that I recall, I did read it immediately after I powered through the first season).In the books, he only pops up 2 times so his back story is understandably more limited.

But given that Clay listens to all the tapes in one night, it is extremely understandable for Tony to only make two appearances. Any more than that, and there may be a whole other sub-plot going on…

We learn how Justin and Jessica reacted to the news of her rape.

Because of the extended time frame in which the series is set, we get to see how all the characters react to the tapes. Which I think is great!

The Netflix series tells us J&J did indeed stay together, and that Justin lied to Jessica about what he allowed to happen that night which allows for a horrific new story line which will no doubt further unravel in series 2.

Similarly….the Netflix series also allows us to see how the parents react.

It tells us that they react by the taking the school to court for allowing bullying to go on and not doing more to help Hannah (watch out Mr. P).

Courtney’s tape comes as a result of Courtney being gay and kissing Hannah. And then, ofc, Courtney using the fact that she has a less than squeaky clean reputation (s/o to Foley and Standall) to make out she’s innocent.

Okay, I’ll come clean, Courtney’s tape confuses me and I may have this wrong – but I think that in the books, the two don’t kiss, it doesn’t mention if Courtney is gay or not and Courtney doesn’t throw Hannah under the bus by saying they were involved in a threesome situation.

Instead the story is that she has a perfect rep and is worried that because she had blown Hannah off in the past, Hannah may not like her, thereby denting her aforementioned stellar rep. But Hannah, understandably, doesn’t like feeling used like this.

I get that being used is the worst. But I couldn’t help but feel the story behind Courtney’s tape in the books was a little thin. Were Courtney’s  (book) actions really the same as all the others? Did she deserve to be in the tapes? But then again, did Clay? This book is a ROLLER COASTER of emotions.


NEED I SAY MORE??(Okay, yes, of course, I’m going to.)

In the book, the boy who dies the night of the party is an unnamed senior. But of course, Netflix creates the character of Jeff (famous for his unique use of ‘unique’, calling James Madison a mad stoner in his paper, tutoring Clay in girls – no, girl, singular – and tbh being the all round voice of reason in this show).

I love Jeff. Thank you Netflix for such a glorious character.

And of course there’s one more…


The Netflix series, by its very nature, can go into more detail and create story lines and character development (and Jeff, praise the overlords at Netflix HQ) that I’ve come to love.

So I’m just as excited as the next guy to see how this all further unravels in season 2, where Netflix takes off from where Asher’s ideas end and steams ahead.

13 Reasons Why is haunting. Maybe that’s the best word for it. It sticks with you. That’s good and bad – I’m going to say, mostly good.

If you haven’t read it, you’re not missing out. Netflix does a fine job (better, even) of portraying the story. But I recommend it! Even if just for more Hannah and Clay and other characters we adore.


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