Friday, August 5, 2011

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
Little, Brown & Co, 2011

I loved this fabulous retelling of Hamlet! In a modern-day setting, complete with tabloids, tv and the papparazzi, Ophelia has an on-again, off-again relationship with Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Ophelia, whose father is still an advisor to the King, lives in the castle, and finds herself caught between the drama of dating the prince, and trying to be a regular senior in high school. When Hamlet's father is murdered, Ophelia watches as her boyfriend slowly goes mad.

Ray manages to perfectly capture the essence of Shakespeare's story and cleverly add her own unique twist. The story is told in three formats - it alternates between an interview Ophelia does on a popular talk show (think Oprah) after everything has happened, the story as it plays out, and an interrogation (after everything has happened, but before the talk show) of Ophelia by agents with the Denmark Department of Investigation. While it may sound confusing, or jarring, to go back and forth between the three, it really works. The story flows, and it serves as a great way to draw out pieces of the story at a time.

There are original quotes used throughout the book, such as "To thine own self be true," and Hamlet scribbles his famous "To be or not to be" in a notebook - it's great to see these incorporated into this retelling.

The end has an author's note, in which Ray discusses her inspiration for this story, as well as other details such as why she used the original names, yet gave Ophelia friends and classmates with modern names, and why she kept Hamlet a prince. I loved getting her insight!

The author's website:

Reviewed from library copy

For a completely different, but equally wonderful, take on Hamlet, try Something Rotten: A Horatio Wilkes Mystery by Alan Gratz.

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