Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray


Meet Ophelia, high school senior, daughter of the Danish king's most trusted advisor, and longtime girlfriend of Prince Hamlet. She lives a glamorous life and has a royal social circle, and her beautiful face is splashed across magazines and TV. But it comes with a price - her life is dominated not only by Hamlet's fame and his overbearing royal family but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go.

After the sudden and suspicious death of his father, the king, Hamlet spirals dangerously toward madness, and Ophelia finds herself torn between loyalty to her boyfriend, her father, her country, and her true self.

In this stunning contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view, debut author Michelle Ray brilliantly weaves together old and new. Filled with drama, romance, tragedy, and humor, Falling for Hamlet is a compulsively readable novel. And this time, Ophelia doesn't die. (from back cover)

I loved Hamlet when I read it in tenth grade, so I always like reading contemporary versions of this famous play (like Ophelia by Lisa Klein). Though not at all comparable to the original, Falling for Hamlet is a cute and fluffy version of the original.

I really liked how closely Michelle Ray kept Falling for Hamlet to the original even though the book takes place in current day, everything matches up. The book still takes place in Denmark in Elsinore castle and everyone has the same names and roles, but some things are changed. For example, the duel at the end becomes a lacrosse game. If you've read the play (which I suggest you do because it will make your reading experience more enjoyable) you will be excited to see all the little things that are in the original. Hamlet's soliliquys aren't copied word for word but some of his lines are used which was nice to see.

I didn't like that this book was pretty fluffy, even though Hamlet is technically a tragedy. I didn't like how generic the setting was; Ophelia still attends high school and even though they were in Denmark it felt very American. Nothing was very Danish in the book and it felt more like a story of American royals if we had some. There was a big emphasis on the media and tabloids, which I guess you would suspect in a book about a royal family.

What was interesting was that in addition to Ophelia narrating her story to the reader, there was also parts where Ophelia was being interrogated by the authorities (they think she had something to do with everything that went down in Elsinore) and where Ophelia was being interviewed by a talk show host. It was neat to see how Ophelia changed her story slightly to make herself sound better (this mostly happened on the talk show; in the interrogation room Ophelia was a bit of a smart aleck).

So, I think if you enjoyed Hamlet the original, you will get a kick out of this contemporary adaptation. I highly recommend the original so please don't read Falling For Hamlet in place of that, even though Michelle Ray did a good job of translating events to the modern world.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: review copy from publisher.
Release Date: today!

2011/Poppy/348 pages.

No comments: