Thirteen Reasons Why Book Cover Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
Mystery, Young Adult, Fiction
December 27th 2016

You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.


Although the show, 13 reasons why is pretty honest with portraying the message of the book and yet it was different from the book on many levels. Here’s a list cum rant of all the significant differences that I was able to spot.


1. Timeline

In the book, Clay stays up all night, listening to the tapes and finishes them all in one go, more or less. This is different in the TV show as Clay has a lot of trouble listening to the tapes without having a panic attack and therefore he takes things slow.

Which means that he takes days to finish all the tapes.

It also means that these precious scenes never happen in the book:

13 reasons why   13 reasons why


2. Depth

clay best scene the truth will come out

Because Clay is taking so many days to finish the tapes, that leaves room for other characters to be introduced.

Like the POV of the characters that Hannah accuses to have played certain roles in leading up to her killing herself and introduces a few parents, which I am the honestly grateful for.

It gives the story more depth and helps the viewer understand where the bullies are coming from. Not really sympathize with them but just understand.


3. Clay

In the book, Clay is an average guy who is liked by everyone but in the show, we get to see how listening to the tapes slowly stark to mess with him and change him into a new and flawed person who struggles with ‘right and wrong’ and doesn’t always make the best decisions.

I mean, when he reached for that lotion when he saw Hannah and Courtney’s leaked picture… my jaw dropped to the floor.

Also, Clay does go to Tyler’s house in the book but he never took that picture. He didn’t take justice into his own hands.


4. Diverse characters

13 reasons why

Which brings us to our next topic. In the TV show, Hannah and Courtney kissed! Zach Dempsey and Courtney are Asian! Jessica Davis, Sheri, and Marcus are African American! Ryan Shaver isn’t bald! Ehem… wait. no. He wasn’t bald but Shaver, you guys. I always pictured him sans hair. Is it just me? Comment section! Moving on… Ryan Shaver is gay! Courtney is firmly inside the closet! 

These intricate details were never mentioned in the book which makes me glad that the creators took a creative license to give these characters some… character. This gave them more depth in terms of ethnicity as well as sexuality.

Good job, guys.


5. Jeff Atkins

13 Reasons Why

You’ve watched the show. You are obviously familiar with Jeff Atkins, who was debatably (Ahem! Tony. Ehem!) the best and most precious character on the show. So if it’s hard to imagine 13 Reasons Why without Jeff in it… I’d sincerely suggest that you lay off the book.

The character that was given to Jeff was actually a random kid from school who Clay didn’t even know.

Can you imagine?


6. The Lawsuit

13 reasons why

There was no lawsuit.

Hannah’s parents were completely out of the picture and there was no mention of them filing a lawsuit, or even being suspicious, throughout the book.


7. Sheri and Clay Kiss

13 Reasons Why

If that kiss made you super uncomfortable as well, please try to find solace in the fact that it never happened in the book.

She did not try to seduce Clay in order to keep the tapes hidden and they sure as hell weren’t on his bed in that awkward position, together. UGHh!

And her character was named Jenny, not Sheri. Odd that they would change that for seemingly no reason at all.


8. Hannah’s truth

13 reasons why

While it is obvious that Hannah speaks from personal experience but the show makes her out to be an unreliable narrator. Hannah’s truth is not the whole truth. For example, Zach did not throw Hannah’s letter away and Jessica said that it was Hannah who stopped coming to Monet’s.

Which makes a viewer wonder… what else did Hannah get wrong? Can we trust her word?


9. Hannah and Clay’s friendship

13 reasons why

Hannah and Clay were not as close in the book as they were on the show. They did work together during a singular summer break but in the show, they work together for a longer period of time. Up until the day of her death, it seems.

The didn’t go to a dance together and they didn’t chat quite as often in the hallway.

I know. Tragic.


10. Order of tapes

It seems trivial but it’s important if you think about how, in the book, Clay just passes the tapes on.


11. Clay passed them on

13 reasons why

So the reason for why Clay gives the tapes to Mr. Porter and not the next person in the tapes was because he knew that Bryce would certainly destroy them. This was not the case in the book.

Clay was #9 in the books and so he passed the tapes on to the next person, hopefully trusting them to pass them on to the other. In the show, Clay is #11 and the two people after him were Bryce and Mr. Porter. I think he didn’t pass the tapes on to Bryce but directly to Mr. Porter (#13) instead, for two reasons.

1. Bryce would throw them away.

2. Mr. Porter would likely put his selfish reasons aside and do what’s right. That is, hand them over to the police.

What Mr. Porter actually ended up doing, we won’t know until season 2 in up. Netflix really needs to up their game from here.


12. Bryce doesn’t really rape Hannah

13 reasons why

I know! That was truly a breaking point for her and it didn’t even happen in the book. You know what did happen? Something messed up and significant in determining the true state of Hannah’s mental health.

While heading towards the party… Hannah said to herself: I shouldn’t (go there) but I will anyway

Meaning she had an idea of what she was walking into.

She never says no. “You were touching me but I was using you.” she said in Bryce’s tape. She didn’t say no or push his hand away. All she did was turn her head, clench her teeth and fight her tears.

She wanted something to drive her over the edge. Finally succumb to the society’s image of herself while Bryce fingered her in the pool.

I’m not saying that there’s a difference between unwanted fingering and unwanted sex when it comes to rape. But was it truly unwanted? Had she just shook her hair or said no, maybe even a douche-bag like Bryce would have backed off. Maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened.

This speaks volumes about the kind of state Hannah was in, mentally. She had mental health problems and needed help. Yet, nobody noticed that something was amiss. That is the one topic that 13 reasons why, the show, fails to shed proper light on.


13. Clay’s recorded confession

You guessed it right. There was no 14th tape. It never happened. There are many reasons behind this…

Clay listened to all the tapes in one night?

Clay wasn’t really an active participant while reading?

Hannah was never technically raped?

Probably all of the three.


14. Hannah and Courtney don’t make out

13 reasons why

Move on to a ‘lighter’ topic… When in Hannah’s house trying to catch her stalker, Hannah and Courtney don’t make out in the book. Courtney merely gives Hannah a back rub. Courtney probably isn’t even gay.


15. Tyler was jacking off

13 reasons why

When Hannah and Courtney spot Tyler outside their window, he was actually jacking off to their ‘massage session’.

This guy might as well have serial killer written across his forehead.

Maybe even a mass murderer? What do you guys think he’s planning to do with all those guns in his truck? Which he obviously never had in the book. Why did he take Alex’s picture down? Why did he have these pictures up anyway?

I predict a school shooting.


16. No lost bag of money

This, I thought, also contributed to Hannah’s suicide in the manner that she felt like a burden to her parents who were already struggling financially.

Such an incident never took place in the book. There wasn’t much mention of the parents anyway.


17. Tony spills to parents

13 reasons why

So at the end of the show, Tony actually gives a copy of the tapes to Hannah’s parents. A decision I support entirely.

I was more than happy for this particular change of plot since a lot of crimes were committed by these people and even if it wasn’t about justice and punishment, her parents deserved to know.


18. Chosen method of suicide

13 reasons why

I favor the book in this one. Pills would be a much less gruesome way to die. But Hannah sitting in a bathtub filled with water and slitting her wrists (that too vertically) was not something I was prepared to see. It shows how suicide is not a piece of cake and is not to be taken lightly.

I understand the importance of the moment but it left me feeling rather under the weather.


19. No Alex shooting

13 reasons why

Alex does not shoot himself or get shot by Tyler or whatever happened. That never happens in the book.


20. Alternate ending.

13 reasons why

This is the most bizzare one yet. For the 10th anniversary edition of Thirteen reasons why, Jay Asher released the original intended ending of the book.

Hannah gets to live.

She does attempt suicide but is eventually (medically of-course) revived and so she gets to live and actually gets a chance to do it differently this time.

So what do you think? Would you like the show as it is or would you have preferred a more honest adaptation? If you prefer the book as it is, I don’t blame you. At least Jeff Atkins would still be alive.

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  • Shilpa Sharma

    Wow there were actually a lot of changes for the tv version may be just to make the audience more interesting… I didn’t read the book but yeah I watched the show and think the theme was changed to be much more darker because the directors wanted to trigger all the things that may have happened or something..This is just my thinking

    • I feel like you feel something more deeply while reading as is. But I liked that the show expanded the book’s universe and brought in so many new perspectives.

  • Jayant Yadav

    Woah! That’s awesome 👌 I mean I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen the TV show. Looking forward for the book now before season 2 is lined up 😍 keep up the good work babe @riya ❤

  • Megha Khatri

    Thank you for this.
    I think I will go for the book now before the season 2 arrives.

    • Your welcome! The way I read it was… I read 3 chapters from the book and then I watched three episodes from the show. And on and on. It was overwhelming tbh. A big mistake.