13 Reasons Why is the latest Netflix original Series to take the world by storm. This emotionally gutting tale is based on the novel by Jay Asher. The story is about a young girl, Hannah Baker, who has committed suicide, but before doing so she records a series of cassette tapes that explain the reasons behind her doing so. There are 13 in case you need me to spell it out for you. Each tape is dedicated to s a single person who had an impact on Hannah's life (like 99% negatively) and is one of the many reasons or catalysts that lead her to her untimely demise. Our story centers around one individual, Hannah's friend, and co-worker Clay. We experience the tapes through him and together we go through the heartbreak that leads us to the darker side of high school and growing up.
The are spoilers ahead so be warned!
#1: Clay's Approach to the hearing the tapes:
In the book, we begin the story with Clay starting tape 1 after finding it on his doorstep. He is of course floored to be hearing the voice of a dead on his dad's old stereo and can't stop listening. Almost like an obsession, he pours through the tapes the first day he receives them. following Hannah's instructions to the letter and visiting almost all the locations she points out on the Map and taking in every word no matter how much it hurts.
The Netflix show gives us a slightly altered approach to his listening. Instead of him pouring over the tapes in one night, Clay drags them over over days. He can only hear a little at a time and is tormented by everything that reminds him of Hannah. He is just as confused as his book counterpart but instead of the need to rip the band-aid off quickly, he slowly pulls at it for almost a week. Of course, I am sure this is something that was needed to make the show function a little more smoothly, but I couldn't help picturing this being filmed almost like a season of 24 when I originally read the book. it is annoying at times because you know that it changes the way the characters interact with each other.
#2: Tony's place in the story
In the book, Tony is the gearhead friend of Clay. Always working on his beloved Mustang his place in the story initially seems like just a means for clay to hear the tapes since he is one of the few people who actually possess a working walkman cassette player. It is not until later in the story we find out his plays a much larger role in things. He is the insurance policy and the one watching everyone and making sure they listen to the tapes and pass them on.
In the show, Tony makes his role known pretty early on, and not only acts like the tapes enforcers but also acts like Clay's Bodyguard. Since Clay is taking the longest to listen to the tapes and several of the characters who play a sketchier role in them have already listened to them, they are rallying together to keep whoever listens next quiet. When the school's muscle starts to flex around Clay, it is Tony is who popping up like a guardian angel to look out for him and gets them to back off. His role in the show is twice as big in the book, and it isn't a bad thing since I like his character, but it does take some getting use to. As the story progresses his relationship with Clay gets tense because he has some secrets of his own.
#3: Parents are far more involved
The book tends to focus more on the lives of the teens in the story. The role of the parents of these kids tends to stay on the back burner because while Hannah wanted attention from her parents and while Clay hated lying to his folks about his running around all night so he can listen to the tapes, they don't really step into the limelight much at all. We don't get a lot of Hannah's backstory with her parents other than they used to be close and then when they moved to town they got so slammed with work they became distant and ignored her. Clay's parents are just hoping he is home for dinner and seems to genuinely trust him and what he is doing.
The show takes a much more hands-on approach to the functionality of the parents. Clay's mom is a typical helicopter mom, hovering over everything he does and is of course overly concerned for him after the death of Hannah. Hannah's parents are also full on suing the school after her suicide and are determined to get the bottom of what happened to her. Her mom is taking with teachers and actually working almost hand in hand with Tony to gain insight into her daughter's life. Even Tyler's parents are trying to figure out why people keep throwing rocks at their kid's window. Support groups are being put together and discussing bullying in school.
#4: Hannah and Clay's Relationship is much closer than in the book.
In the book Hannah and Clay are like two acquaintances, always trying to get to know one another better, but always just missing the mark. Clay clearly is hardcore crushing on Hannah and is too shy to outright ask her out or to even use the right words to get to know her together and throughout the book that is his biggest regret. The things he never said. It eats him up throughout the story, but he keeps listening out of respect for Hannah. Hannah clearly had a thing for picking the wrong guys, and only ever realized who was the right guy when it was just about too late. It is a heartbreaking romance of sorts and really has a way of tearing out your heart.
In the show, we get a much fluffier version of their friendship. They hang out and spend time together. They have an almost date night watching the stars and moon together and the guy who in the book was too awkward to have a full conversation with her is actually always on the verge of slipping past the line of friendship. It is wayyy closer than the book ever lets them get. It makes it harder to understand why these two never got together.
#5: The peeping tom incident is much different
In the book, once Hannah realizes she has a real live peeping tom taking photos of her through her window she sneaks to the window and soon realizes it is Tyler, the school's yearbook photographer. She doesn't confront him through, and instead, she brings up the incident to insanely popular Courtney who, with her flawless reputation is happy to listen and even shows a kinky interest in the idea of Hannah having a stalker. Though she doesn't tell her who it is, Courtney thinks they should totally trap him when he comes back and agrees to be there to help. That evening when the peeping tom returns, they girls act out an entirely fabricated scene for him viewing pleasure, pretending to be not only into each other, but Courtney makes a big production of pretending to find a boatload of sex toys in Hannah's top dresser drawer. When they bust their stalker he runs off, they aren't really able to see his face, but Hannah knows the truth. After the incident Courtney, who has had her fun, basically distances herself from Hannah, when she is no longer useful to her or entertaining. Keeping things polite to not mar her perfect reputation.
Things take a much different turn in the story. When Clay gets to Tyler's tape, he confronts him about the incident, and Tyler claims to have done it because he was into Hannah. When we actually get to witness the events of that night it is dramatically different. First, Courtney is far more of a goody goody than what I personally pictured in the book. Secondly, when she is helping Hannah prep for the evening, she brings a giant flashlight that can be used to shine into the peepers face so they can get a good look at him. Once at Hannah's house Hannah, has them start drinking (in the book they just talk until the Tyler arrives). With lots of booze coursing through their veins, a game of dares starts. First with Courtney asking Hannah to take off her bra, and then Hannah daring Courtney to remove her shirt and it ends when Courtney Dares Hannah to kiss her. When things get hot and heavy they realize they aren't alone and can hearing the clicking of a camera. When they run to the window to catch the stalker, they realize it is Tyler and Courtney loses it when she realizes it is not just some stranger, but a person they go to school with. The next day Courtney dodges Hannah, and when Hannah confronts Tyler, he has the nerve to ask her out, and of course, she says no. After that Tyler shares their makeout photo with the rest of the school, luckily no one knew who it was from the sketchy angle. Courtney tells Hanna she needs to stay away from her.
#6: Bryce Walker comes off way nicer than he should
In the book, the head of the dude bro's is literally a total slimy jerk from the first minute his name graces the pages. He treats women like pieces of meat. He is known for grabbing girls and manhandling them and it is totally overlooked by everyone that knows this meat head. He is not a well-liked guy and every girl knows to be leery of him. Hannah is warned several times to stay away from him. At the Blue Hole when she has her first awful run in with him after the list makes the rounds about Hannah having a great butt. When he comes up and grabs it at the store, he is almost annoyed when she has a problem with it.
In the show, he is like the resident nice guy. Yeah, he is a jock, but with some jerk tendencies, but he overall doesn't come off like the threat he actually is. He is everyone's friend. Even when we get to the ass grabbing scene it really comes off on screen and a much smaller deal than it actually is because they don't play him off like the psycho his character actually is. I suppose to make him believable to audiences as someone everyone wants to hang out with it makes sense, but it takes away from what otherwise is a really tense scene.
#7: Clay takes matters into his own hands
Book Clay is again blowing through these tapes in one night. He is a passive listener for the most part. He is a loner who needs to take this journey alone. With the exception of speaking with a handful of people, his night is spent alone with his own thoughts and memories. These tapes were meant for reflection for each of the 13. So again, no repercussions, just listening to why they are all responsible, is really all that is hoped for. To letting it sink in and really effect them or change them.
The Netflix version has a different idea of how Clay plays this. Since he is again listening to these tapes over the course of days, it gives him time to really think and even more time to react. When he finished Tyler's tape he takes action, by taking a naked picture of Tyler and sending it around the school, much in the same way Tyler did to Hannah. or Keying Zach's car He is all about his own brand of justice for Hannah. Even when Tony tries to talk him down, he is still not sure he is ready to stop. It is a very different side of him than we see in the novel.
#8: The reaction of the rest of the "Baker's Dozen"
This is perhaps one of the biggest differences from the book. In the book, all we know about the reactions of the others affected by the tapes is that they can easily be spotted because they are all walking around looking like they have been gutted. That is pretty much it. Plain and simple.
The series gives us a much different look. We are faced with a group of people who are busy trying to cover their own asses. They don't even seem terribly upset about Hannah and more upset about covering for each other. They slowly are putting together a plan to stop Clay from seeking out any more vengeance as he moves further through the tapes and as the secrets grow in size. They are the definition of awful people for the most part. Aside from a few short shows of sympathy and regret, most of these guys don't seem to take their role in this whole their very seriously. They deny their part in it and will step up to shut down anyone to defies the status quo. Then even go as far as to threaten Clay and with the help of Alex's police officer father, let him know they are untouchable.
If the book doesn't make you hate these clowns the show will have you wanting to throw things at the screen at them.
#9: We get to see Clay slowly fall apart.
We get to see the emotional torment the tapes put Clay through in the book. We see him cry a lot as he thinks about all the ways things could have been different and how he could have been different. It is a tough road for Clay with every long step he takes in the book and we are right there with him.
The deconstruction of Clay in the show is almost darker. It is seeing a kid who knows he needs to stick with this but can barely bring himself to hear another word. With him not only taking down the popular kids who added to Hannah's grief notch by notch but also in making himself more withdrawn than ever before. When he does come out of his shell it is usually with some wild and crazy outburst. He is a broken man who doesn't know how to cope, even though it has been weeks since Hannah has passed. The tapes change Clay in many ways and it is easy to see how he will never be the same.
#10: The order in which the 13 receive the tapes is mixed up a bit
The book ends with Clay getting ready to send off the tapes to the next person on the list, and that ways heavy with that on his mind.
In the show Clay knows there are still two people left to get the tapes, one, of course, being Mr. Porter, but with us having a wildly different point of view with the kids on the show, we know Clay is super hesitant to send the tapes off because he is in the middle of a growing resistance against him. He doesn't want Hannah's words to be stopped, but the rest of the 13.
#11: Hannah's attack is way more brutal in the show
In the book, Hannah ventures into Bryce's hot tub after stumbling upon a party there. She is at the end of her rope and just desperately looking for something, anything to cling to and even the wrong attention is better than none at all. This is all after she has stopped talking to Clay when their night together went south. She gets into a hot tub with Bryce and Jessica and even though she knows Bryce is a predator she doesn't flee when everyone but Bryce gets out of the hot tub and even when he starts putting his hands on her, she just stays there no moving and crying figuring if everyone is going to talk about her. They might as well be true.
In the show, it is a full on attack. She is begging Bryce to stop and very clearly keeps trying to get away from him, but he being the jerk that he is, keeps dragging her back into the tub and holding her down. He is the worst of humans. It is that moment in the show that really pushes Hannah over the edge.
#12: Hannah's suicide is altered
In the book, Hannah admits that she kills herself by taking a bunch of pills. We never get too much into it and it is kinda glossed over for the most part. We know what happens without the gory details.
In the show, Hannah slits her wrists. It is a pretty huge detail and plays a pretty sizeable role in one of the episodes. It also drags Tony into the story more, since he is there right after it happens.