“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo: Book VS. TV adaptation

Because of the way I was introduced to this book, I thought it fair to do a comparison of the TV show (which I saw first) and the YA book it was based off of.

Before I get into the review though, I’d like to reiterate my thoughts on TV/Movie adaptations of books. I love adaptations; I love to see what another persons view of the media is – costumes, sets, actors. Yes, I even love the changes they make – to a degree. This is how I feel about it – if the adaptation stays true to the heart of the book, then change away! Writing and Visual media are drastically different, and not just in a “well d’uh” way. Writing can delve into the depth of thought and the depth of scenery, it can point out the ominous signs and the glitter in a characters eye. With TV and Movie, you have to SHOW that, and unless you have a non-stop narrator there’s no inner thought. If you zoom into someone’s face to show emotion, will everyone watching perceive the emotion the same? Will they understand the depth of the scene if they don’t have the character’s monologue? So, there are always a lot of changes to show the things that a book can perfectly explain to you. Not to mention shows are limited to what is physically possible and safely possible. Is their budget big enough to get that nice sweeping shot? Can they be in the proper locations? Is an actor or stunt double willing to be blown up?

Another big edit that I’m usually pretty happy about is travel. How many books have chapters and chapters of characters traveling from one point to another? Game of Thrones (especially the first book, dear lord), Lord of the Rings Trilogy (let’s be real, the first book was 80% walking), just to name a few. But when long scenes are cut out, important dialogue has to be shuffled. Scenes get blended, other scenes get made up, and that’s fine. I forget who the interview was with, but they said the changes made were for the book fans, so they could enjoy it like the first time viewers. So they couldn’t predict every scene and every outcome, and I appreciate that. I admit, some scenes that are added are dumb (IMO) but they do add twists.

Let’s start with the most difficult thing for the show runner to adapt – Shadow and Bone is all from the main characters perspective. In this adaptation you lose Alina’s thoughts on everything, her knowledge, her feelings towards people and scenarios – so they have to figure a way to show these things. Because of that some of her history is lost and her true feelings (yes, she has a crush on Mal – and has forever, but she hates his snoring).

Alina Starkov, in the book, is explained as pale as soured milk, plain looking, with mousey hair. But generally Caucasian. The actress that plays her, Jessie-Mei Li, is Half-Chinese. Through reading the book, I noticed some similarities in Bardugo’s lands, and our own. The people known as the Shu remind me greatly of China, so in the show they made Alina a Shu orphan. I read an article when the show was about to premiere that they wanted to add in that edge, because of everything that was happening in our own lives, they wanted to reflect it. Many shows do that, basically to show how idiotic the situation is. So many times in the show Alina has to deal with ignorance and racism (I did personally feel bad about this because she was already dealing with the pandemic Anti-Asian bullshit. She spoke up a lot about Anti-Hate, and in the show they made her deal with comments on her “Shu eyes” and things like that).

The story actually follows the book incredibly close. Alina Starkov, just one of hundreds of orphans made by the thing called the fold. There is a dark rip in the middle of their continent (world?) filled with horrifying creatures. People still need to travel, life has to continue, so for hundreds of years they have been driving ships across sand and through the fold. How is that possible? By people known as Grisha. Grisha (some nations call they witches and kill them) harness the “small sciences” and can cast and control certain elements. You have the ones that can throw fire, the ones that can create wind (and can cause a squall big enough to blow a full size ship through pure darkness), but then there are ones that can stop your heart and can control your mind. Alina, at least in the beginning of the book, is a simple map maker in the local army. One of her fellow orphans, Mal, is a tracker in the army as well. The two grew up together and have spent every moment together. When Alina could trust no one and felt exiled and alone, there was always Mal.

In one of their postings, the two groups were sent across the fold. They needed to map extra places, especially with War brewing between the two nations. As you can imagine, everything goes horribly wrong and the ship is over run by these monsters, the Volcra. Mal is brutally injured and as Alina is snatched out of his arms a bright light comes from within her.

Our dear Alina is a Grisha – and a special one known as a Sun Summoner. Basically, the only Grisha in the world with the ability to destroy the Shadow Fold. All children are tested as children under the Darkling’s orders (he’s more or less the ruler of the Grisha) and if proven to be Grisha, are brought to him to be trained. Because Alina didn’t want to be separated from Mal, she subconsciously pushed her powers down – in the show because that’s something hard to show visually, she slices her hand to distract herself.

The show cuts out a lot of the travel that Alina and Mal take, but for the most part they follow the same plot path.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers if you haven’t indulged in this series but otherwise the only BIG change is a character in the book only known as “The Darkling” is given a name.

I loved the show, to be honest I’ve watched is probably half a dozen times. Alina is not a strong character, so in both the book and the show she has to work hard. The book is given more time to show her personal growth and the learning curve – the show we basically get a training montage and move on. The book feels like it takes place over several months, where the show feels like a week. That kind of speeds up relationships and events and some of it gets a little muddled. I love watching characters grow and change and learn, I hate the trend of super-human females who are perfect from the get-go (looking at you live-action Mulan). Woman are humans too, no one is born perfect, we all fuck up and have to learn. That is also what makes an endearing character. Alina is thrown into a world she knows nothing about and has to learn a lot of hard lessons.

Before I forget, a HUGE change between the book and the series is another book in the Grishaverse known as the Six of Crows. They are not in Shadow and Bone, but the writers of the show weaved a completely new story into it. They called it the “prequel” to Six of crows so it doesn’t really change either book storylines drastically. Events were tweaked to include the Crows and it worked with the S&B plot. An example – in the book, the King has a big party with entertainers and all the nobility to show off the Grisha and the brand new Sun Summoner, spoiler events happen and Alina sneaks away into the entertainers wagons as they leave the castle. For the show, they have the Crows infiltrate the entertainers so they can get into that party to try and kidnap Alina. As we follow their plan, one goes awry and kills a handmaid bespelled to look like Alina, while the others get in and get as close to her as they can before the Darkling whisks her away and foils their specially laid out plan. While outside manning their escape vehicle, a Crow notices Alina sneak out and hop into the trunk on the back. Obviously these scenes are different, but in the end they go to the same place – Aline escaping the castle. In the show she then escapes the Crows and heads into a city, once again perfectly matching up with the book storyline. It’s shockingly well done.

As usual though, I recommend both watching the show and reading the book. The book rounds Alina out a little more, and shows a different view of the same scenes. It’s a well written and interesting book and I get upset when I have to put it down and go to bed.

Shadow and Bone is a Trilogy, so it will be interesting to see what the show does when it catches up, and the Six of Crows is so far only 2 books I believe? But they are both part of a series known as the Grishaverse. You damn well know that once I’m done the S&B series I’m getting the Six of Crows, I actually enjoyed their characters and heists more than Alina’s story.

The Magicians vs Harry Potter

I noticed the Magicians back when I worked in the book store (I did do a review for the first book if you were curious about that before getting into this review), but the covers were bland and what everyone told me about just made it sound like Harry Potter version 2.0. So, I passed on it. Next came the show, and any new TV show that is moderately supernatural, I will try once. I watched the first episode and it was Harry Potter 2.0 but with sex. Months later when I gave the show a second try, I realized several episodes in that it was NOT Harry Potter.

Yes, they are both about magical schools that are hidden in the real world with cool ways to disguise themselves and work the system. They have “houses” the students are separated into. The houses in Harry Potter are based on personality traits, the houses in The Magicians are based on magic type. And they have their own cabins and rooms with other kids of their discipline. So in this aspect they are very similar. Even the schools are similar; Brakebills vs Hogwarts. Magical teachers, dangerous subjects, and magic based sports.

That’s about where the similarities end. Harry Potter was aimed at younger readers, and the characters -while wonderfully flawed, were still aimed at that young audience and reflected that. The Magicians, not so much. It’s characters are much darker (and I do believe a fair bit older, like late-teens), a little bit more relatable, and stuff happens with and to them that would have had Hogwarts shut down and under some kind of investigation. Like, Malfoy being turned into a ferret was a horrible thing, Quinn and company being turned into geese and foxes was just part of the curriculum.

Speaking of that curriculum, the magic systems in the two shows are wildly different. I compared Harry Potter to Harry Dresden, and their magic systems were dramatically different …The Magicians magic is closer to Harry Dresden magic, but also kind of it’s own thing. Instead of wands and pseudo-latin, it’s incantations and complicated hand movements. Plus, magic has “types” unlike either of the Harry’s where magic is magic. For example, Hermione can do any spell you throw at her, but her Magicians counterpart, Alice, specializes in a type of magic that bends light. She can go invisible and burn things down just by bending the light around her. Things like that.

When I started the first book of The Magicians, I could see character correlations, Quinn is Harry, Alice is Hermione …etcetera, etcetera. But, they basically take those characters and push them to the extreme. Harry is the chosen one, pretty good at what he does, not popular but no UNpopular …Quinn on the other hand: depressed, suicidal, in and out of mental institutions, no friends, makes no friends (even when he does make friends he feels more like he’s on the fringe of them), subpar at magic, and has no specialty in magic (in the show his specialty was “fixing small objects”, but as far as I’ve read in the series he doesn’t have a specialty). Hermione, super smart, gifted, kind, great family, kind of a dork …Alice, dear Alice, comes from a dysfunctional family, brother went insane on magic and died, she’s a bit stuck up because she knows she’s smarter and better than everyone, mousey, angry, kind of a dick. So in a way, the characters in Magicians felt more …real. I could relate to Quinn SO HARD to the point I cried a lot, hell, I cried in the TV show! I enjoyed Harry Potter, but I didn’t relate to anyone.

Both series are amazing, and on one hand I’m sad I didn’t read The Magicians earlier, but at the same time, I think I can appreciate it more now. Both series are amazing, but The Magicians is a little more heavy handed and weird …really weird. I would not recommend The Magicians for young readers, but I would recommend Harry Potter for all ages. Harry Potter seems to create an understanding of the world, media, external things like that, whereas The Magicians seems to focus on the internals like grief, depression, loneliness, so they are both important for different reasons. For a well rounded view, I recommend reading both series!

Harry Potter versus Percy Jackson


artemisiconYes, I’m going there. These two series, for one reason or another, always go hand in hand. I think I even made that reference on an older review. So, in this blog, I’d like to see how these two powerhouse book series hold up to each other.

Harry potter is a coming of age story about a young Wizard who attends a magical school. Percy Jackson is a coming of age story about a young demi-god who attends a summer camp for other half-bloods. So, broken down to the bare bones these two series are practically identical.

I think to really illustrate the differences we need to look at the writers. JK Rowling is, a woman. Not only that, she was a mother down on her luck. Even though it is a kids book, a lot of issues and feelings she had went into the book. And the more the series went on, the stronger those themes became. Rick Riordan, a man. Normally I don’t bring gender into play (unless it’s a feminism thing) but getting a female and a male look at very similar topics is interesting. Riordan based Percy on his son, who was dyslexic, so his son could see proper representation (I do believe, I heard this YEARS ago so I’m hoping my memory isn’t too fuzzy), and Percy’s attitude and humor are very male. I don’t know how to explain it better than boys around age 10 can see themselves, and/or someone they can idolize. His earlier books are also “light and fluffy” compared to the feet first dive Rowling took into angst. This difference in style, to me, is what made both books interesting in their own rights. Riordan grew throughout his series and can pack in the feels just as well as Rowling our Queen.

Another big difference is with Harry Potter we got a nail biting 7 books, but with Riordan we got 17 and counting. So Riordan gets to tell MORE of a story, build his world, bring in other character, other mythologies. In the case of Rowling, she told her story, and that was that. In this aspect I think Riordan’s is stronger because he has a cash cow and an audience to keep growing with. While Rowling’s story was phenomenal, the story is said and done, and even though we get fantastic beasts and where to find them movies – those aren’t books.

And speaking of movies, the Harry potter movies are some of the greatest book-to-movie adaptations, and I know I’m wearing a big “FIGHT ME” sign for saying this. But, Rowling had a hand in everything to do with the movies, and any change had to go through her. So if she’s okay with the movies, then that’s good enough for me. Percy Jackson movies …we don’t talk about the Percy Jackson movies.

Another big difference between the books seems to be their emotional focus. Studies have been done proving that kids who grew up reading Harry Potter are more political, conscious of fake news, accepting of differences, among other great traits. The book has elements of man vs self, but the main story is man vs man. Go over to Riordan’s books and they have elements of man vs man, but it’s strength lies in the man vs self. I’ve talked about one of his newest series, Magnus Chase, about how progressive it is, so if you’d like to read that review it is back in the list! But Riordan brings up topics of betrayal, racism, sexism, transphobia, just to name a few! I’m a big reader, and I’ve never read books that cover THIS many issues. And this well! On this topic, I believe BOTH series need to be read for a well-rounded view.

One note, prepare for a Greek History enthusiast. My boyfriend’s daughter is a huge Percy Jackson fan and spent $50 on a giant hardcover Greek Mythology coffee-table book.

Both books are incredible (stay away from the Percy Jackson movies, as much as I adore Logan Lerman, just no.) and deserve a read, both for their big differences, and their similarities.

Anita Blake versus Lestat de Lioncourt.


Another series that was compared to me long, long ago, were Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

I started reading Anne Rice back in High School, I think somewhere around the time the ‘Queen of the Damned’ movie came out. I found out they were based on books (Interview with the Vampire was one of my favorite movies) so I started reading the books right away! In college, (I don’t remember exactly how it happened) another person in my class and I got talking about Anne Rice, and she told me if I like Anne Rice, I’ll like Anita Blake. If you’ve read my reviews, you’ll know it was YEARS later that I finally picked up a Laurell K Hamilton book.

Once again, I saw no similarities, even less than Harry Dresden and Harry Potter. Both books contain Vampires. That’s about where the similarities end.

Laurell K. Hamilton’s series is about Anita Blake, a necromancer turned Vampire Hunter for the State. She does get entangled with the local Vampire coven and romantically involved with the leader.

Anne Rice’s series follows, for the most part, a French Noble turned Vampire. His trials and tribulations as he grows both as a Vampire, and as a personality, and eventually to a leader of his kind. Lestat does share some similar traits with Anita, both are sarcastic and a little bit childish, but where Anita’s personality is within normal limits, Lestat breaks any boundaries and creates a level all his own – even earning the title the Brat Prince.

On top of the main characters being really nothing alike, the stories are drastically different. Anita’s story takes place in current times as she battles supernatural creatures of all kinds and tries to find her place in the Vampire community. Lestat’s story, known as the Vampire Chronicles, actually bounces between other Vampires, like Louis and Armand, to tell a fuller, wider story. It starts way back in Lestat’s childhood (around the 1800s), and details his entire life as a teen, up until he attracted the attention of an Ancient Vampire, through his learning how to be a Vampire and gaining a following of both humans and Vampires. Because of their long life, the stories eventually catch up to current times (the times when the books were written since the series is very old: Interview was first publish in 1976). Both stories are very much a coming-to-age style, only Anne Rice does hers on a much larger scale.

The Anita Blake series is told from her point of view, so you see the story ONLY through Anita’s point of view. It does make the story interesting because you get to learn about Anita through her thoughts and reactions, and you learn about other characters through her impressions of them. The Vampire chronicles are told from that Vampires point of view, but in the sense they are literally writing their own books. Interview with the Vampire is written as Louis giving an interview, so you get conversation between him and Daniel, the boy interviewing him. All of the books in the series are done like the Vampire they are about are actually WRITING the book, so you always get their thoughts on the events, and only their point of view, but another book might come out written by another Vampire that overlaps and tells a slightly different version of the same event. The books are incredibly well written and interesting for that fact.

Certain topics come up in both books, and are dealt with beautifully, but those topics aren’t enough to call the books similar.

Both series are awesome, for entirely different reasons. Laurell K Hamiltons books are a quick fun read, where as Anne Rice’s are a bit deeper and dwell more on thought (their place in the world, religious ramifications, the need to kill to survive, etc), than actions. I loved both series and I’m first in line when new books come out (to the point I have all the new Anne Rice books in hardcover).

I don’t want a Vampire lover to miss a wonderful series because they are expecting one or the other. If you read my other Versus review, you’d know I likened Anita Blake to Harry Dresden, but Anne Rice is kind of in her own classification. If I had to compare her to ANYONE it might have to be Ken Follett. The heavily emotional stories that spans through generations.

I rather enjoy writing these Versus reviews, especially since people comparing one book to another shaped what kind of books I started reading. I wouldn’t have read Anita Blake, or Harry Dresden if it wasn’t for someone telling me it was similar to a series I had already read.

Harry Potter vs. Harry Dresden


artemisiconThis was a concept I’ve been tossing around for a while. Working in the book store people always gave me the title of their favorite books, and wanted something similar, so I was constantly trying to compare books. Our computers had a fun little function where it did that for you, so it was interesting to see what the computers pieced together.

Now, on that tangent, a long, long time ago a friend found out I was reading Harry Potter (this was before the last book even came out) and said if I like harry Potter, I’d like this series called the Dresden Files. It took me many, many years but I eventually picked up the first Harry Dresden. After plowing through the first several books I couldn’t understand HOW one book was compared to another, there was literally NOTHING similar. Literally, both main characters are named Harry, and they’re both Wizards. That’s it, the only similarity.

So, I thought it would be fun to start a Versus series with comparing the very first “If you like that, you’ll like this!” I ever dealt with!

Before we delve deeper into the actual story, the biggest difference is the books themselves. Harry Potter is classified as 9 – 12 (though “adult fiction” versions have been released so adults don’t feel so embarrassed reading them in public – I wish I was kidding), whereas the Dresden Files is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Potter is read through a third person’s point of view, where Dresden is 1st person. This gives both books a very different feel, and allows for Dresden to be as sassy as he wants to be.

Both our characters are named Harry, but Harry Potter is a 11-year-old, and Harry Dresden is in his 30’s. Potter is a child from Britain; whose parents were killed by an evil Wizard and to protect him, sent him to live with his cruel Aunt and Uncle. Dresden lives in Chicago, where he works with the police on crimes that are a little to weird for their paychecks, and runs his own business for people who need a Wizard to solve their problems. His mother was killed when he was a child, so his single father raised him. After his father’s death Dresden is sent to live with his Uncle, where he learns about his magic and how to use it properly. Admittedly, both characters are somewhat similar. They have a lot of the same traits (as do most hero-type characters) determination, strength, honesty, what have you. And later in the books Potter does get quite the sassy attitude. But Dresden has a bit of an edge because of his age, and the fact that although Potter has been through a lot in his short life, Dresden has been through more. This is already aimed at two different demographics. Not saying that each age group can’t read either book, but I wouldn’t recommend Harry Dresden for anyone in the 9 – 12 range.

Now, we can’t talk about Wizards without talking about the most important part; the magic! We all know how magic works in the Harry Potter world: swish and flick, and it’s Levi-OH-sa, not levio-SA. Potter’s magic is based on spells that were created and handed down, only being used through the magic of a wand. Most of their magic is wand and incantation, but there are potions, made from odd magic-based ingredients (gillyweed anyone?). Dresden’s magic is the complete opposite spectrum. Magic comes from within, and the only time a wand (or blasting rod) is used, is as a tool to focus their magic through. Dresden is good at LARGE magic, mostly for blowing stuff up, so if he needs to do a spell with a much smaller radius, he funnels it through his blasting rod. Wizards use incantations, but the language is their choice. Some use ancient latin to sound better, others use their own language, and some just use gibberish! Harry’s most common spell is “Flickum Bicus” …and if you think hard enough, I guarantee you can tell where it’s from. They aren’t using handed down spells, they are creating their own, sometimes using other people’s spells and spellbooks if they want to try something new, or are in a situation the spells they created can’t help. And their potions are completely different. I really loved how Dresden did his spells, it kind of rooted the story more in our reality, giving it a “what if?” feeling. He doesn’t use some obscure magic creatures blood, or a magically growing full moon mushroom. He uses ingredients that require all our senses, and usually uses pop as a base. He uses money in a love potion, or sunlight in an energy drink. And because Dresden is completely broke his spells seem completely thrown together and desperate, but lets his natural strength come through!

Potter is a boy thrust into the limelight because of surviving a killing curse. The books follow his life through school, and the slowly growing power of his greatest enemy. Even though they are kids books, they are absolutely phenomenal. They bring up issues many adult aimed books won’t even touch, and has created a generation of open minded, politically savvy, and creative children. Children who know the media lies, and that being different (in colour, sexual preference, nationality, etc) isn’t bad. Dresden doesn’t hit notes like that, but that doesn’t make it less of a book. Dresden is a Wizard for hire that works with the police in cases containing magic or anything occult. Dresden has to deal with werewolves, vampire courts, fairy courts, evil hidden in the Wizard council, and just all around bad luck. Dresden hits a different note through this; he’s not rich, not overly handsome, not overly strong or athletic, but he’s smart. And determined. Those factors get him through any situation thrown at him. He shows that you don’t have to be “special” to make it through life, you have to be determined and face any challenge head-on without giving up. Even if life kicks your ass the first few times.

Now, the point of this review wasn’t to say if one was better than the other. It was to compare because all these years, I had no idea how one could be compared to the other. And if someone is interested in reading one series because they like the other, I don’t want them to be disappointed because they are nothing alike.

I found Harry Dresden actually closer to the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. Anita’s series is a female lead, and has a hell of a lot more sex, but at it’s root they are very similar. Both are written through the characters eyes, and both characters are quite spunky and sarcastic. Anita is a Necromancer for hire, who works with the local police on cases involving anything supernatural (though her cases are a little more bloody and gruesome). And Harry Potter is much closer to Percy Jackson – a demi-god raised by a single mother who spends his summers at a half-blood camp learning to harness his powers and inevitably saving the world.

I hope this review was interesting to everyone!

“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, Book vs. TV adaptation


asteriaiconPlease allow me to try something a little bit different today. As I was watching Netflix this weekend, I came across a new show added to their lineup. I saw the title “Thirteen Reasons Why”, and thought “Huh, I wonder if it has anything to do with the book?” I am no longer “with-it” and don’t really get a lot of pop culture information, so I had no idea that this project was even in the works.  I had read the book way back in my book store days, and while admittedly I didn’t remember the exact details of the YA novel, I did remember that I was not a huge fan of the book, but I figured it was only 13 episodes so why not give it a shot and see how it goes.

For those not familiar with Jay Asher’s book, Thirteen Reason’s Why is a teen novel about a girl, Hannah, that commits suicide. Hannah has left behind 13 tapes, each one telling a specific person how they played a role in her death.  The tapes are to be listened to as a set, and each person passes the set onto the next in line, that way all 13 people get to hear what they did, and how it helped create the environment in which the next person wronged her. The idea of the book intrigued me, what could possibly go wrong in a teen’s life to pass on tapes to explain the wrong doings? How would these tapes impact each person as they receive them? What are they to do with that knowledge? What was Hannah’s overall purpose of leaving them, just to tell each person they hurt her or inflict just as much pain and hurt on them?

*Spoiler Alert* If you have not watched the show or read the books and intend to, this is the point to stop. My review is rife with spoilers!

The Book

The book changes narratives between Hannah as she tells her story, and Clay, who is the most current person to listen to the tapes, number 9. Clay worked with Hannah at the movie theatre, and while he really liked her, he was somewhat shy and never really talked to her much, they were hardly what could be called friends. Clay listens to each tape continuously in one night, trying to understand why he is on the tapes in the first place, all he knows is that one night she took some pills, and not really knowing her what could he possibly have done to her? He quickly learns how hard things really were for Hannah, how one seemingly simple childish high school act changed the course of her short life.

Personally, while I liked the idea of the book, I really didn’t understand Hannah. I didn’t connect with her, and felt she was somewhat childish, blowing some things out of proportion. Plus, there were one or two things that people had done in the course of the tapes that I felt if they bothered her as much as they clearly did, maybe she should have done something constructive about it. I found her whiny and I couldn’t sympathize with her.

The Show

One of the thing I loved about the show was that each episode focused on each specific person and how they impacted Hannah’s life. However, the narrative changed a bit. It is still told through Hannah and Clay, but now we actually get to hear Hannah’s voice and see her as story unfolds. There are things that happened in the show that didn’t happen in the book, after all it has to be fleshed out a bit to make a 250 odd paged book into a 13 hour show, but I found the additions and changes helped the story.  Clay takes his time listening to the tapes, listening to them over the course of a week, rather than in one night. This gives him time to reflect on each action, and confront each individual person, something that didn’t happen in the book. I personally really liked this aspect of it. We get to hear everyone’s point of view.

Poor Clay suffers greatly as a result though, both physically (confronting people causing …well confrontation’s), and mentally (he starts to hallucinate, seeing her everywhere). The tapes come with a detailed map Hannah has made, and as he listens to each tape, he follows along on the map, retracing her steps, seeing what she seen, and feeling what she felt. The visual aspects of the show added leaps and bounds to the story that a book simply cannot create. It made me actually connect with Hannah, made me understand that it wasn’t each individual action by each person that resulted in her sad demise, but the cumulative nature of it all. One thing led to another, which led to another, and snow balled out of control for her. For whatever reason, I just didn’t grasp that aspect in the book, and I am somewhat ashamed of myself for not seeing that.

Due to the fact that Clay takes his time listening to the tapes and confronts everyone, it isn’t a secret as to who has the tapes and how much he has listened to. This brought in a different element. Everyone named in the tapes was aware, and all trying to stop him from continuing with the story. There were a number of crimes committed by a few people, and they are afraid of what will happen when more people find out.

Another element to the story added with the television show is that we are no longer in 2007. This is the era where everyone knows everything about everyone thanks to social media. Technology plays a big role. It isn’t just rumors spreading here anymore like in the novel, now there are actual photographs and texting amongst the characters. You see photos spread from classmate to classmate, and see things posted on social media sites, in a way that didn’t happen in the book. You see how rumors spread faster and cause more trouble. You can also see the impact the tapes had on each character, how their lives changed, and how much they sometimes regretted their actions.  I do love that they kept the usage of cassette tapes though; it gave a nice retro feel.

The creators of the show also added in a touch of today’s culture. In the books you rarely hear anything about Hannah’s parents. The show however, added them as full characters, grieving for the loss of their daughter and trying to understand what happened. They decide to sue the school, feeling that the school should have known more or done more to stop this terrible tragedy. They blame the school for creating and allowing an atmosphere of bullying, and Hannah’s mom takes pictures of the bathroom stalls to show all of the negative comments written there. She finds other evidence in Hannah’s room that she may have been bullied, and rightfully wants justice for her daughter. This is something that is often heard on the news in the last few years, where people are seeing to fight back against bullying and fear. We also have a few openly gay characters now, which I love seeing. I loved that the casting crew provided a very diverse group of characters.

Due to the different avenue for the story, some things are a little more difficult to withstand when seeing rather than reading (to me anyway). Yes there is sex and violence, but I am sort of acclimatized to that from everyday television and media. Here, you see two separate characters get raped, and it is intense and real and awful to watch. You see the characters fight back and lose. You see the mental trauma that has resulted from the rape of both of these characters. You actually see the exact point in which Hannah gives up. It was a heartbreaking scene to view. However, nothing was as hard to watch as the moment Hannah takes her life. In the show it is not done by taking some unnamed pills, instead she slits her wrists, and it is as real as it gets. I had to look away. I couldn’t stomach watching such a scene, and wept for her the whole time.

The show changes the line up a bit in which people receive the tapes, mainly Clay went from number 9 to number 11. By doing this, Clay doesn’t have to pass on the tapes back to people who may destroy them; he passes them on to number 13. Number 12 was the person who raped her, and we know that he certainly will not let the tapes see the light of day again. Number 13 though, he is someone who let her down perhaps most of all: the school counsellor Mr. Porter. She met with him the day she kills herself, and told him about the rape. She tells him she doesn’t want to continue living. She won’t, however, tell him who raped her. After all, who will believe that the rich star quarterback raped her (a little clichéd to me, but I’ll forgive). Mr. Porter tells her that if she isn’t willing to press charges, she needs to move on. Get over it. This is why rape culture exists in the first place, and this is why people think its okay. Just get over it.

The ending was powerful. Not only do we see such a tragic loss, we have another character attempt suicide (we don’t know if it was successful or not).  We also see Clay reach out to a former friend, and show a level of compassion that we so rarely see in today’s society. Clay has evolved, something I always hope for in characters. And in case you were wondering…why was Clay on the tape in the first place? He was innocent. He didn’t hurt her. If anything she wished for more time with him. He was the nicest person she had met, and she wished things had turned out different between them. I believe he was there out of guilt; guilt that she chose this path knowing there was a different one available, and leaving behind perhaps her only true friend.

I think modernizing the show was the best way to go. We can see struggles of today’s teens, and see how things can change so quickly thanks to social media. Not only do you know the various things that happen to Hannah, but watching them makes it so much more real. I think the show (and book too) tackle some very strong subject topics and handle them gracefully. I also think the show adequately showed a few aspects that are wrong in today’s society, from rape culture to how we view suicide, even how we see suing as an option to heal.

If by now you haven’t guessed, I loved loved loved the show. I felt a whole new appreciation for the author and the book as a whole. I looked at things different and felt things different. Perhaps I didn’t associate with Hannah because I wasn’t a thin pretty American teen who went to parties and found themselves the main gossip of the school. I had my own struggles, but I found her to be whiny and unlikable. The show though, I couldn’t have appreciated her more. I felt so awful for her as I watched everything spiral out of control, and watched just how much she suffered.  The characters in the show called Hannah a liar, and it wasn’t until the show that I realized that she was merely telling her truth, which can be different from someone else’s, but no less valid. The whole series was so powerful, with a number of good messages, and a good look at our culture. And I can say now I am so glad I read the book, even though it was a while ago, and extremely thankful that I found this on Netflix. I burned through the season in a day, and I can safely say it has had a lasting impact on my life, and hopefully my actions in the future. Go read the book!  Definitely go watch the show!! You won’t regret it!