Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray, which was released this week.
While reading adaptations of tragedies, the question in the back of my mind is always whether or not the author is going to maintain the tragic aspects to their full impact or not.
I remembered certain aspects of Hamlet. I can't remember if I read it for my college Shakespeare class or not. What stood out to me was watching another local high school perform it around my junior year of high school. Needless to say, I was rusty on a lot of the finer points, so I looked up information about it on-line to refresh my memory.
Wondering how closely Ray's version would align kept me clicking away on my Kindle. I won't share how many details aligned because that would spoil part of the fun, but I will mention that Ray had a nice author's statement at the end of the book that explained her inspiration for the novel, as well as her decisions on what to keep the same and what to change. A couple of smaller details that won't spoil anything is that I loved that she kept the names, even though as she explains, it was awkward at times in a modern setting. However, with a couple of characters, she simply had the classical names be their last names and everyone just called them by their last names - a nice fit.
The format of the book also helped to build tension. The start of each chapter began with a small part of an interview between Ophelia and Zara, a popular talk show host and ended with pieces of an interrogation between Ophelia and two officers. The parallel interviews were so fascinating, leaving the reader wondering which happened first and how Ophelia's story in this novel would end. The narration between the two book end interviews was the full truth that Ophelia was not going to tell either Zara or the officers.
I love, love, loved this book. In some aspects, it is probably better suited for older YA readers. It will be especially nice for those who are reading, watching, or performing Hamlet in class. I know a novel like this is exactly what I would have loved when I was in high school or college (where my interest in modern updates was initially sparked).
The book reminded me once again just how powerful and universal Shakespeare's messages are. Though I often think such tragic endings are rare (but then again maybe not...), so much is applicable to every day like, such as: the emotions of wondering what to do in complicated situations when people that you love are pulling you in different directions, how to grieve, how to handle disappointments and betrayals in a healthy way...
In my TBR pile, I also have The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, Enthusiasm, and The Romeo and Juliet Code. I just can't get enough of adaptations!
*2011 Debut Author Challenge Book 9/12