Thursday, 16 February 2012

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Library
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2011

Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller-coaster life and lives to tell about it--in live television interviews, of course.

I always think that modernizing Shakespeare is a tough thing to do. I've read a few attempts and none of them have completely won me over. Unfortunately, while there were some things that I liked about Falling for Hamlet, there were also some I could have done without.

Ophelia was an interesting character. She's barely present in the original Hamlet but the star of the show in this modern version so I was very curious to see how that would play out. Michelle Ray did a great job of incorporating her into the story but I'm just still not sure exactly how I feel about her. On one hand, she had her definite moments of strength and especially towards the end, she took hold of her own life. Then though, at other times, it was completely the opposite! I really wish she would have told Hamlet where to go a few times. Also, why does her life revolve around Hamlet? I understand he's going through a tough time but I can also completely understand why Ophelia's friends were annoyed with her ditching them for Hamlet all the time.

Besides Ophelia (and Hamlet) -- although they both have their good points as well -- I liked the characters. They weren't all exactly likeable (Hamlet's mother for example is a real angel) but they were realistic and tailored well to the story. I especially liked Horatio and the dundunduuun evilness of Hamlet's uncle.

The pacing of this novel was a little off to me. I found the first half to be going at a fairly steady pace, with a big emphasis on the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet, but then the second half seemed to speed up considerably. Suddenly it was like so many things were happening and while I understand this is actually what Hamlet is like, I wish there would have been more... changes. I want to read a new take on the original play, not a modernized version in prose.

The police transcripts were an element I liked, even though I found them a little bizarre and often rather unnecessary. They brought something fun to the story and I laughed at Ophelia's snark quite a few times! The same goes for the TV show.

The dialogue of this book was snappy and there were some great twists to the original lines to make them fit into the story, which I loved.

Cover Comments: I reaaaally like that throne. It's so pretty and the details are great. I'm not really sure how I feel about Hamlet and Ophelia in all their black and white glory but it's generally not a style I appreciate.

3.5 stars

11 comments:

  1. Sounds like a book I need to borrow from the library first.

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    1. That's probably what I would do, yeah.

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  2. I've never read Hamlet (gasps!)...this might be a good thing, yes? New perspective? I love snarky heroines. Shall I give this book a bump up my Mt. TbR? Great review! :)

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    1. GASPS! Yes, maybe! Perhaps my view was tainted by my love for the original Hamlet :) Go for it, Joy! I can't wait to hear what you think of it. Thanks!

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  3. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Shakespeare's writing (read: not at all) but I enjoy his storylines (okay, maybe I enjoy Leonardo DiCraprion, so sue me!). So I'm always interested to read any modern day retellings. But sucks that this one didn't quite live up to expectations =\ Still happy to hear there were a few redeeming qualities that made this a fairly likable enough read. Fantastic review, Sonia!

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    1. First maps, now this?! Brodie! Obviously you're just not reading the right Shakespeare ;) Thanks! It's like you said -- I didn't dislike it, I just didn't love it.

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  4. I'm with Brodie here...not a fan of Shakespeare. I did study Hamlet for a while though, and the story itself was pretty interesting (though the language...ack). It's a shame you were disappointed with this one! It sounds quite funny but the other factors seem more negative. May give this one a go still, but I'm not entirely sure it's for me. Great review, thanks! :)

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    1. Well, I guess you get part marks for liking the story :P It's definitely an exciting one. There were some funny parts! There were also some things though that were kind of weird to me that I think sparked from trying to modernize but still keep it Hamlet. I don't know, something about it just didn't completely click for me. Thanks!

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  5. Actually am a fan of Shakespeare (when studied at school, would never rea for pleasure.) I think the modernisations work work well in films (10 things I hate about you...such a good movie) so I'm curious about book form but it seems like this one misses the mark a bit.

    The Cait Files

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    1. YAY CAIT!! I love Shakespeare personally :)

      Woah woah woah. 10 Things I Hate About You is based on a Shakespeare play? :| I've never seen the movie but I seriously used to love the TV series. I'll have to look that up!

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  6. I'm not a fan of Shakespeare; although I find the language interesting, I can rarely stand his characters. This adaptation does sound kind of neat!

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