Book to TV Adaptations: 13 Reasons Why & Big Little Lies

Book to TV Adaptations

I am almost never satisfied with movie or TV adaptations of books, but yet I cannot resist. More often than not I re-read the book before watching the adaptation, which probably leads to more disappointment because the book details are fresh in my mind. I had opposite experiences with two recent TV adaptations.

13 Reasons Why Netflix Original

13 Reasons Why, Netflix Original Series

I read Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why several years ago for my YA book club. It was before I started blogging and before I started using Goodreads even, so I don’t have any notes on why I gave the book a 3 star rating. I think it may have been because I thought the plot was unrealistic. I think perhaps I thought what happened to Hannah wasn’t that bad or that she was overreacting. I love Jay Asher’s The Future of Us, written with Carolyn, so I don’t think it was his writing that I disliked. It’s hard to know because I didn’t re-read the book before watching Netflix’s series.

I loved the show. It’s awful obviously, but I thought it was so well done. It worked so much better for me to see Hannah and everything that happened to her versus just reading about Clay listening to the tapes. I’ve read some reviews that the show makes it too drawn out, but it completely worked for me. The acting was terrific in this series, and while some of the episodes are hard to watch, I couldn’t stop watching this show. I think I blew threw it in 3-4 days. Wow. So powerful.


Big Little Lies HBO Mini-Series

Big Little Lies, HBO Mini-Series

Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies was my favorite book of 2015. And while I also read this book before I started blogging, I did record this small review in Goodreads:

I loved the satirical tone of this book. The crazy parent politics of Kindergarten were spot on! I listened to this book and often laughed out loud in my car.

I re-listened to this book before watching the show because it had been two years, and I was due for a re-read. I like to re-read 4-star and 5-star books as much as my reading schedule will allow. Everything about this book was fresh in my mind when I watched the series, and I was disappointed. I’m guessing I would have been dissatisfied even if I hadn’t just re-read the book.

Here are my main complaints. Warning: Spoilers below!

  • The show was too Americanized. By which I mean, there was just too much sex. Why did they have to make Madeline have an affair? That doesn’t happen in the book.
  • The show was too much about the individual adult drama and not enough about the friendship between the 3 main women. I wrote a blog post about the friendship aspect of this book. That was what was so powerful for me.
  • The kids were cute, but they almost seemed like an afterthought. Why did they make them first graders too instead of kindergarteners? What school starts in first grade?
  • Why did they remove the significance of Jane’s rapist’s name? [Sorry, all, for my original misstatement here about the rapist himself being someone else.]
  • Why did they cut out the rain scene with Jane and Tom? With all the added sex for the other characters, why did they skimp out on Jane’s relationship?
  • I wanted to see the ending with Bonnie. Again, it just kind of got glossed over.

All that being said, I did still enjoy the show, as something separate from one of my favorite books of all time. I loved how they did the police interviews. Those provided such great comic relief to the book and the show. I just thought they could have done a better job. I missed the Australian accents.


What did you think of these TV adaptations?


Feature image from Pexels

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  1. I thought 13 Reasons Why was done really well too. I thought the acting and the overall look and feel were spot on. I liked Big Little Lies more than you did. Again I thought the acting was done well and the small changes didn’t bother me. I thought that Jane’s rapist was the same in both though? I must have missed that. Great post!
    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted…Monthly Rewind ~ May 2017My Profile

    1. I need to check my wording. The rapist was the same. I meant to say that they took away the meaning of the name he’d used. Oops. I did enjoy the show – but just as a completely separate thing from the book. It’s so hard when you LOVE a book. A show can never live up to the expectations.

  2. No no, Jane’s rapist was the same in both. I was disappointed by the ending in the show in Big Little Lies as well. I wished it would have been a balcony instead of the small set of steps. I didn’t think the small one set of steps was realistic.

    1. I need to correct how I worded that. The rapist was the same, but they removed the fact that he was using his cousin’s name. I think that took away some of the friendship drama. Agreed about the steps vs. balcony.

    1. He was the same person, yes, but they removed the fact that the name was Perry’s cousin’s name, and I don’t understand why. Maybe they thought it would make it too obvious, but I think that’s part of the friendship dilemma in the book, ya know?

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