Comparison: Thirteen Reasons Why

Recently, a series for the novel Thirteen Reasons Why, was released on Netflix. Out of curiosity and the large amount of people raving about it, I decided to watch it. I read the book a couple years ago and hoped the series would do well to mimic it. Please note that this is a serious and powerful piece of work with triggering and sensitive topics. While it holds important lessons, it may not be a book/series for everyone.

A quick synopsis: Hannah Baker is the new girl at her small high school, ready for a fresh start. Almost immediately she captures the attention and interest of many and while it seems like her life is going well, it takes an unexpected downward spiral. Social media, rumors and loneliness saturate Hannah’s life and turn it upside down. She suffocates under pressure and undergoes numerous internal issues. Eventually she commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes holding thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The thirteen people responsible for her passing are hit with the overpowering realization that their actions and words are more than just actions and words.

The book, written by Jay Asher, is incredible and captures the essence of what it is like to be a teenager, overwhelmed by the struggles of today’s society. The book was personal and eerie but the series made everything come to life. Yes, the series over exaggerated some parts and added more details to parts in the book that were briefly discussed. However, that realism and graphic detail is what really speaks and captures the attention of many. Without using detail to demonstrate the severity of Hannah’s problems, people can be tempted to overlook them. The book and series share similarities such as the relationships between the characters, and the secrets and rumors that get spread around. Like any book and show, they hold differences as well. The biggest difference is how raw the series is. There are more in-depth character backgrounds, more dramatic confrontations between characters and heavier, darker scenes.

This book is a huge metaphor; while Hannah is one individual in this one particular book, she stands for every human in this world that may be going through exactly what Hannah went through. She stands for those who are too scared to speak out and she stands for what our society needs to fix. Thirteen Reasons Why not only acknowledges flaws in our world but also shines a light on the importance of being kind and realizing that everyone fights their own personal battles.

-Jessica T.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Program by Suzanne Young

theprogram_suzanneyoung“But the psychologists say that suicide is a behavioral contagion. It’s the old adage ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too?’ Apparently the answer is yes” (9).

In Sloane’s world, nothing is as it seems. Any sign of depression, even just crying in public, and a teenager risks being sent to The Program, a “solution” to the suicide epidemic. Here, teenagers’ minds are wiped clean so they can start their lives again. The handlers medicate them to erase all their pain and memories, leaving all the returners “empty,” as Sloane might say.

Sloane, her boyfriend James, and their friend Miller do not agree. They would prefer to die than be sent to The Program, which makes things slightly more complicated.

Overall, I found this book to be a compelling read. I would definitely recommend it, yet keep in mind that it discusses a sensitive topic. For that reason, I would recommend this book for a slightly older audience. Even at my age, I was a disturbed by the repetition of suicide in the novel.

On a brighter note, however, the narrative was sentimental. The Program is definitely one of those books where you sympathize with the characters. From the perspective of a critic, the storytelling leaves readers with questions which are left unanswered until the very end, which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Program is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library