13 Reasons Why Book vs. Show Breakdown

If you’ve had a chance to catch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, it’s easy to see why it’s all anyone can seem to talk about.

The buzz-worthy drama hooked viewers instantly with its realistic portrayal of life in high school and the shocking tapes left behind by Hannah Baker. But any book lover will know that 13 Reasons Why was actually inspired by the novel by Jay Asher. Whether you’ve read the book or not, we’ve underlined everything you need to know about the most obvious differences between the book and the show, what the show got right, and what fans are saying about it.

Fair warning: *SPOILERS AHEAD!*

via Giphy
via Giphy

Differences Between the Show and the Book:


1. The Timeline

Right away, you’ll find that a glaring difference between the book and TV show is that they take place over totally different stretches of time. In the novel, the story is told in just one day, but Netflix stretched the show out over a few weeks. The book is also set in 2007, so not everyone has iPhones and social media at their fingertips like they do when the show takes place in 2017.

2. The Legal Issues

After discovering that their daughter had committed suicide, Hannah Baker’s parents on the TV show filed a lawsuit against the school. It was a major focal point of the show since Hannah’s classmates feared that the leaked tapes could implicate them in the case. The lawsuit was also a way to potentially hold certain characters accountable for their actions (*cough* Bryce *cough*). The lawsuit was totally nonexistent in the original story. Since the TV show had more flexibility in terms of the timeline, it made it easier to work the lawsuit into the plot.

3. The Characters

Many of the scenes in the TV show are devoted to Clay’s hallucinations and visions of Hannah after she dies. Later we learn that these hallucinations are caused by Clay’s anxiety and the duloxetine medication that he takes to treat it. It makes it hard for Clay to do a lot of things, including listening to the tapes, which he does at a much slower pace than everyone else.

In the book, Clay manages to breeze through all 13 tapes in a single night because he doesn’t suffer from anxiety. Clay’s parents are also a major part of the show since his mom works to defend the school in the lawsuit. In the book, his parents barely check on him, but this could also be because the book takes place over a shorter time span.

4. The Ending

The decision to end Hannah’s life was hands down one of the most difficult scenes in the TV show to watch. The show held nothing back as they showed Hannah slitting her wrists and bleeding out alone in her bathtub. In the novel, Clay says that Hannah swallows pills and overdoses. At the end of the book, Clay was instructed to give the tapes to the next person on the list, but on the show he chooses to skip the next person, which would have been Bryce. Instead, he secretly records Bryce’s assault confession and creates a fourteenth tape, which he gives to the school guidance counselor, Mr. Porter. Tony also makes a copy of this fourteenth tape and gives it to Hannah’s parents, which never happened in the book.

via Giphy
via Giphy

What the Show Nailed:


1. The Music

When it came to bringing Jay Asher’s novel to life, 13 Reasons Why definitely stepped up to the plate. For one, the music on the show was everything. Who could forget “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron playing in the scene where Clay and Hannah were at their school dance together, dancing for the first time?

Lyrics from the song like “haunted by the ghost of you” were super fitting to the story line and show’s plot. It’s a major difference from the cheery “You, Me, Cellphones” track by Husbands that accompanied the first party Hannah threw at her house and one of the few positive experiences she had on the show.

2. Shedding Light

Although the scenes involving Hannah’s and Jessica’s assaults and Hannah’s suicide were graphic and extremely difficult to watch, they were moving and left a powerful impact on viewers. By presenting these scenes the way it did, 13 Reasons Why has created a space where we can recognize and talk about mental health issues.

3. Realistic Portrayal

It also realistically portrayed some of the challenges of being a high school student and the power of social media within a student body. Most important, after watching the show you take away lessons about how your actions can be perceived by others and how kindness can go a long way in shaping another person’s life.

via Giphy
via Giphy

What Fans Are Saying:


If Twitter is any indication, fans have been buzzing about the show ever since it launched. The show’s official Twitter account provided the confirmation that we’ve all been waiting for, thanks to this teaser:


As for impressions of the show so far, the reception has been mostly positive. No matter how old you are, the show hits close to home for many people as they feel that they can relate it to their own personal experiences.





With some fans left questioning certain aspects of the show and its message:

While other viewers are showing their love for the show through original artwork:

Memes are already going around about fan theories on what really went down with Alex. Whether he committed suicide in those final scenes where we see him being taken into an ambulance is still to be determined:

via Instagram @accur.rate
via Instagram @accur.rate

And as if that’s not enough, Netflix shared this amazing video created by the cast of 13 Reasons Why on they love the show’s fans, where you can find even more tweets and commentary:


What did you think about 13 Reasons Why? Tag us @GetUnderlined!

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