Wondering about the differences between the 13 Reasons Why book versus the Netflix show? Like most books made into shows or movies, there are quite a few. While some say the show is actually better, I find that’s rarely the case. Different, maybe, but rarely better. Then again, it’s all a matter of perspective. There are some HUGE differences between the book and the show. Let’s check them out, then you can decide: book, show or both!
13 Reasons Why Book versus Show
This post contains affiliate links, as well as some spoilers for both the book and the show.
Clay doesn’t take his sweet old time listening to the tape
Am I the only one that thought it was weird that it took Clay like a zillion years to listen to those tapes? Yeah, I get it, it was painful to listen. Still, if I knew that my name was going to come up, I’d listen in one sitting! In the book, that’s exactly what Clay does. Well, maybe not one sitting, I’m sure he got up to use the bathroom, but he did listen to all the tapes in one night.
No one gets bullied on social media in the book
Asher published the 13 Reasons Why book back in 2007, before social media bullying became a problem of epidemic proportions. Yes, cyber bullying was still an issue to an extent, but teens weren’t all over social media back then. In the show, social media and text messaging plays a larger role in Hannah’s demise.
Clay doesn’t see Hannah in vivid detail everywhere he looks
In the show, it seems like Clay is actually hallucinating Hannah at times, which is blamed on the anti-anxiety medication he used to take. There are so many things wrong with and about that but I’m not going to rant about it right now. In the book, Clay doesn’t see Hannah in 3-D everywhere he goes. I think the show did this to help us connect with Clay better and understand his pain over losing Hannah, but honestly, it did get confusing at times.
The gash on the head becomes a gash on the hand
In the show, Clay hurts his head when he falls off his bike while listening to the tape. In the book, he hurts his hand. Not a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but I think making him gash his head in the show made more sense. It was the one thing that helped us figure out whether he was in a memory or reality. A gash on the hand would have been harder to see.
Hannah’s parents don’t sue
In the show, Hannah’s parents are suing the school for their part in her suicide. In the book, they’re barely even mentioned. I do feel like bringing her parents into the show as semi-major characters was a good idea. It helped drive home the point that suicide deeply hurts everyone who loves you.
The suicide scene is drastically different!
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is how Hannah kills herself. In the show, she slits her wrists (which is shown in disturbingly graphic detail). In the book, she swallows a bunch of pills. In Beyond the Reasons, the show’s producers explain why they opted for such a gory ending for Hannah.
Okay, so don’t quite know yet if he lived through the show, as that was their cliffhanger of sorts to set up a second season. In the book, though, Alex doesn’t try to kill himself. He doesn’t consider drowning himself in Bryce’s pool and he definitely doesn’t shoot himself in the head. I think the sole reason for this happening in the show is to give a reason for a 2nd season now that Hannah’s mystery has been solved.
These are just a few of the biggest differences between the 13 Reasons Why book and show. I don’t think it necessarily has to be an either/or sort of thing. You can read the book and watch the show, then decide which you like better. Or you can do what I do. I read and watch, but think of the show as “inspired by” instead of expecting an exact replica. That way, my expectations aren’t sky high and I don’t get annoyed by the differences.
Did you read the 13 Reasons Why book before watching the show? What do you think are the biggest differences?