Samantha's Reviews > Falling for Hamlet

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
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's review
Apr 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: must-reads, teen-fiction, read-arc, favorites
Recommended for: Shakespeare lovers, high school students
Read from May 13 to 14, 2011

Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray is a marvelous book. She perfectly captures the tragedy of Ophelia, Hamlet and his family. She kept the darkness of the play and the telling Shakespeare language, but she flawlessly brought it into this century.

What stood out most for me was the use of language. Hamlet is a character loves his sexual innuendos, both in the play and in this book. That was used very well throughout the book and really made me feel like Ray had done her research. Having studied Hamlet in school I really enjoyed seeing the parallels. Shakespeare characters are known for going off on long tirades, especially when they are by themselves but Ray effortlessly keeps the speeches in the book, modernizes them and makes them wonderful. Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech was wonderfully rewritten and Ophelia’s “garland” speech was cleverly placed in the book.

Ray used text messages, TV interviews, police interviews and teenage slang to bring the book in to this century. I thought that the text messages were a bit too much in text speak, I found in unlikely that they would really cut out that many letters. While it only hindered my reading of them once it was still a bit irritating and unrealistic. However, I could imagine that they wrote like that because they knew people would have access to their messages. At first I was turned off at the idea of the TV interview starting the chapters and the investigation ending the chapters but it really propelled me through the story and made me want to read more. The teenage slang and way of speaking was well done. Even the bits that I knew were taken directly from the play (“Ophelia, can I lie in your lap?”) were well done, and had I never read the play Hamlet I probably never would have noticed that these words were once Shakespeare’s.

The two problems I had with the book are actually very superficial and not even a writing decision. The cover is kind of suggestive, which means I probably wouldn’t pick it up in the store. However, it is a very suggestive book. This book, while it doesn’t have sex scenes so much, doesn’t shy around the topic or the innuendos. If you think a Shakespeare rewrite would be complete without sex jokes you’re crazy. I also wish the title were better, I feel like it doesn’t fit what the book is ultimately about. In fact, the tag line “First comes love, then comes madness” fits a lot better. Ultimately, this book could have come in a brown paper sack and I would still love it.

I really felt for Ophelia’s character. I felt her pain, her despair, her worry, her love for Hamlet. I felt it all and it was very realistic. Hamlet’s character was lovely, of course, and I really loved him right from the beginning. In fact, I loved all the characters. Simply said, I loved everything about this book.

Spoilers if you haven't read Hamlet: Now, as a fair warning, this story does not deviate from the original plot of Hamlet aside from the fact that Ophelia doesn’t die. This story, while chock full of drama and romance, is not a Sarah Dessen novel. This is not your post-break-up pick-me-up… actually, considering the ending, perhaps it is. Despite the ending, I still felt good at the end of the book because Ray does a wonderful job of wrapping up Ophelia’s character. We really see her transformation.

Ray is an excellent writer. Falling For Hamlet is a book I will visit again and again. If you are apprehensive about reading a Shakespeare rewrite don’t fear, this book does not sanitize or try to make the play happy. The depression and madness is kept throughout the book. With one book Ray has my trust and I will be sure to read anything she writes ever again, and I sincerely hope to see more Shakespeare rewrites from her.

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Reading Progress

05/13/2011 page 44
13.0% "Everything I thought it would he and more."
05/13/2011 page 90
26.0% "No one uses that much text speak!"
05/13/2011 page 104
30.0% "This book is so good it's almost making me cancel my workout for today.... Perhaps I can run and read at the same time."
05/13/2011 page 230
65.0% "Work be damned. I'm finishing this tonight!"
05/14/2011 page 280
80.0% "So maybe I won't finish it tonight. Give me a break! I can't stay up as late in my old age!"
05/14/2011 page 352
100.0% "Raving review to come!"

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