Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

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Falling for Hamlet
Michelle Ray
Release date: July 3rd, 2012 (Paperback)
by Poppy

 

Sometimes love can make you crazy.

Meet Ophelia, high school senior, daughter of the Danish king’s most trusted adviser, 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 television screens. But it comes with a price–her life is ruled 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, with no one to turn to. All Ophelia wants is to live a normal life. But when you date a prince, you have to play your part.

*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*
“Mistakes and miscommunications. Violent love and violent hate. Betrayals and desire. Our beginning, our middle, and our end.”
-quoted from Falling for Hamlet 


First let me state that this is my first time experiencing Hamlet’s story. Having gone to a French school, Shakespeare’s work was not part of our curriculum, hence my unfamiliarity with it. In addition, I’ve never had the opportunity to see it as a play as there are no production where I live. So yes, Shakespeare… not my forte; but I’m happy to report that I quite enjoyed Falling for Hamlet. Obviously I can’t comment on any comparison; the author’s notes at the end are very interesting, however, and showcase what she’s changed, added, and modernized. 

I’m not going to go into the study of Hamlet’s character. Whole classes are taken up to discuss this. I actually spent a bit of time to Google Hamlet once I started it and found myself immersed by his madness and how this is actually left open to interpretation for the reader to decide what’s real, and what isn’t. How insane is he, really? I was obviously fascinated by his deeply complex characterization, but even moreso, how his madness seems to spread. This whole cast is really messed up! 😀 This can bring forth such a huge character study; like I said I won’t start an essay about it. Let’s just say that I have a shameless attraction to morbid tales like these. I love how incredibly tragic the characters’ lives become. They’re all so intense and dramatic; spiraling out of control. How can you look away? Michelle may not have created these characters, but she modernized their setting; made it fresh with some added material and extra twists that I’m confident fans of the original will enjoy.

The format – I loved it. We get the story in three different parts narrated by Ophilia: There’s the story that she tells Zara during a TV talk show interview (think Oprah), there’s her investigative interview, then there’s the truth. The latter is our main story, the others being only short passages to begin and end each chapters. Glimpses of her interview on the Zara show set the perfect tone for what’s to come. As for the investigation, it’s fun and adds an extra punch to the story, but I didn’t feel it was completely necessary. I will even admit to getting annoyed at the ridiculous accusations that are thrown regarding the smallest of details that are simply absurd. On the other hand it’s amusing to see Ophilia’s reactions to these.

I don’t really have to go into the plot. I mean, I’m sure I was in a very small minority who aren’t familiar with Hamlet. Michelle does modify it some while leaving the general story untouched (as stated in her notes). For instance, she begins the story before the King dies, she adds a lot of technology, and reworks how fast the media affects high profile lives with so much modern technology.

As a first experience, I can say it’s a wonderfully perplexing and violent tale that while I can’t compare to the original, I found myself incredibly enticed by this retelling. It’s such a tragic story of love and loss, manipulation and fear. It’s brilliant and thought provoking. If this is what one should expect from a modernized version of this tale, Michelle Ray nailed it. 

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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35 Responses to “Review: Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray”

  1. Sam

    This sounds so good! I love the idea of a modernised version of Hamlet. The complex characterisation sounds appealing too, and I can’t wait to give this a try. Amazing review, Giselle! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  2. Nick

    Sounds really interesting, Giselle. 🙂
    I,too, have never read Hamlet, so I don’t know how I’ll feel about it. It sounds very cute though !
    So glad you enjoyed it !
    Great review, Giselle. 🙂

  3. Eileen

    I haven’t ever read Hamlet so I can’t really have a feeling for what’s going to happen, but it sounds like such a tragic story, and trust me, madness and crazy is what I’m good at. -.- I’ll definitely be adding this to my TBR list, great review! 🙂

  4. Amy

    This sounds like a great book!! I really enjoyed Hamlet, so a modern version of it is very appealing to me. When I saw this book in your Stacking the Shelves I wasn’t too sure about it, but after reading your review I will be adding this to my ever growing TBR list. 🙂

  5. Kirthi

    Hello Giselle 🙂
    Ohmygoodness, I’m reading Hamlet right now! I read Ophelia by Lisa Klein, so I had a bit of background on it, but this modernised version sounds absolutely brilliant! I’m looking forward to this one 😀

    -Kirthi

  6. Jenea Whittington

    I have never read Hamlet. My daughter read it for school and loved it. I think this would be a great book. I have to check this one out. Loved your review.

    Jenea @ Books Love Forever

  7. Mirjam

    I’m trying to remember if I have ever read any modern retellings of Shakespeare’s plays, but if so, I cannot remember it. I have always been more attracted to his comedies, so Hamlet is not a favourite of mine. The idea of a modernized version does appeal to me and words like ‘brilliant and thought-provoking’ are immensely encouraging. I think I will add this one to my ever growing wish-list!

  8. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    This sounds really good! I like the idea of getting the story in 3 different ways, I’ve always found that I have enjoyed that. I did study Hamlet in high school and I can tell you that I remember NOTHING LOL so this will probably be pretty new to me too! Great review!

  9. Stephsco

    What a cool concept; I enjoy retellings of classic stories. I really liked Jane by April Lindener which was a modern spin on Jane Eyre.

  10. margie c {the bumble girl}

    I really never thought that anyone would be able to modernize Hamlet again – this truly sounds amazing! I’m surprised I had not heard of this book before a few days ago! I cannot wait to read what Michelle Ray has done! Great review, Giselle, thanks 🙂

  11. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Wow–that’s a really short skirt she’s got on. If she came to school like that, we’d make her change. No need to dress like you’re occupying a street corner to get the boy, honey! LOL.

    Anyway, I do love Shakespeare retellings so I’ll have to check this one out. Great review!

  12. Tabitha

    I can’t believe when I saw this book I didn’t connect it with Hamlet… Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m thinking..
    Great review! I can’t wait to read this book, and don’t worry I’m not familiar with Shakespeare either! 😛

  13. ❤ Vivian

    I’m really excited for this book, and now I’m even more psyched to read it <3 Super happy that you found this one to be enticing!! And OMG! Go read Hamlet Giselle!!! (like the actual Hamlet). Goodness, if I were to pick my favourite male main character from Shakespeare, it'd be Hamlet all the way!!! I don't care how mad he was at the end, Hamlet's awesome.

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  14. ❤ Vivian

    I’m really excited for this book, and now I’m even more psyched to read it <3 Super happy that you found this one to be enticing!! And OMG! Go read Hamlet Giselle!!! (like the actual Hamlet). Goodness, if I were to pick my favourite male main character from Shakespeare, it'd be Hamlet all the way!!! I don't care how mad he was at the end, Hamlet's awesome.

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  15. ❤ Vivian

    I’m really excited for this book, and now I’m even more psyched to read it <3 Super happy that you found this one to be enticing!! And OMG! Go read Hamlet Giselle!!! (like the actual Hamlet). Goodness, if I were to pick my favourite male main character from Shakespeare, it'd be Hamlet all the way!!! I don't care how mad he was at the end, Hamlet's awesome.

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  16. ❤ Vivian

    I’m really excited for this book, and now I’m even more psyched to read it <3 Super happy that you found this one to be enticing!! And OMG! Go read Hamlet Giselle!!! (like the actual Hamlet). Goodness, if I were to pick my favourite male main character from Shakespeare, it'd be Hamlet all the way!!! I don't care how mad he was at the end, Hamlet's awesome.

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  17. kimbacaffeinate

    This has been on my radar..i love Shakespeare and crazy Hamlet is one of my favorites. I am glad to see you enjoyed this and that you loved the format. Brilliant and thought provoking..awesome!

  18. Addie R.

    This sounds really fun and out of the ordinary! I’m not familar with Hamlet either, but that may be because I’ve only completed my freshman year of high school. Maybe I’ll learn about him later on.
    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  19. Shooting Stars Mag

    This really does sound awesome. I’ve only read Hamlet once, but it sounds like an intriguing remake of it. I do love Shakespeare, though it took getting to college to really fall for it. LOL

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad this one worked for you, despite not reading the source material.

    -Lauren

  20. Aneeqah

    I haven’t read Hamlet, but probably will sometime during school in the upcoming years. This book sounds really great, though! I love how you Googled Hamlet because you didn’t know about his characters, that’s something I would totally do as well. 😉 I’m definitely going to have to give this one a try, given the very unique cast of characters.

    Lovely review, Giselle!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  21. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    Great review Giselle, glad you enjoyed this one. I’m not sure I would share your enjoyment though because I’m not really a fan of retellings. Maybe if I wasn’t familiar with Hamlets story I would feel differently, but don’t think this is for me.

  22. Camille Picott

    This sounds so interesting! There are so many modern takes on Shakespeare stories in Hollywood, though I have not seen it done in a book before. (Maybe it has, I just haven’t seen it.) Sounds like a great modernization of a classic tale. Great review!

  23. Evie

    Welcome to the club, G! I am not all that familiar with Hamlet either. I always confuse this play with other Shakespear’s works xD I know, I suck! Anyhoo, lovely review. I’ve heard some really awesome things about this book and I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it! Hachette had some really awesome titles coming out this year and I’m always excited to dig into one of them! While the cover doesn’t exactly blow me away, I’m definitely excited to find out about the plot! Thanks!

  24. A Canadian Girl

    Even though you weren’t familiar with the original, it’s cool that you still ended up liking this one, Giselle. I’ve got it on my wishlist and look forward to seeing how Ray adapted Hamlet to modern times.

  25. Candace

    I have never read Hamlet and really know nothing of the story. But this story sounds really interesting and your assessment has me thinking I definitely need to give it a try. I really love unreliable characters and this sounds like it might fit the bill.

  26. The Vintage Bookworm

    Great review! I’ll definitely have to check this book out! I think it’s on my TBR list on Goodreads already, but I’ll have to check.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. =D I hope I can get my hands on it soon!

  27. Jenna and Ashley

    Giselle, this is in my closet and I’m really looking forward to reading it now! I’ve read Hamlet, but that was 10 years ago. I’m glad you don’t have to know the story to get the book.
    Your review is awesome! And yes, it is quite a crazy cast of characters in the play:)
    -Jenna

  28. Alexa

    Ooh, another book that’s sort of a modern spin on a Shakespeare tale! As a Shakespeare fan, I definitely have to add this one to my list of books to check out!

  29. Lalaine

    Ok so we also dont have Shakespeare in our school, so i am not familiar with the story, but it does sounds so good and I would loved to be introduced to the retelling of Hamlet. Great review Giselle. I am adding this to my lsit!. thanks.x

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  30. Christina

    Whoa, you’ve never read Hamlet? O_O I didn’t realize the French weren’t as obsessed with Shakespeare. I suppose it makes sense, but I just always kind of assumed that every culture read a lot of Shakespeare. Way to make stupid assumptions, self.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I do want to read this, because it’s based on pop culture hello!, and I’m curious to see how it will stack up with a greater knowledge of the source material.

    The cover is kind of awful, though. Or is that just me?