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A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison
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A Wounded Name

by Dot Hutchison

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won a copy of the audiobook here on Librarything. It took me a very long time to get into the audio and finally gave up half way through. I found that the audio made me drowsy and was no longer interested in it. It was a sad decision to make because the narrator has a beautiful voice. The retelling of Hamlet had great appeal to me initially and I started off really enjoying the story.
This rating is purely for the audiobook as I intend on trying reading the book before I can give my full opinion on the writing. The feel of the audio was very melancholy, the narrator has a very soft voice and there are very few instances in the story where the volume differs from narration.
There are scandalous events that occur in the story but as is, comes off rather flat and woebegone feel instead of outrageous drama filled events. As I have never read the original Hamlet I cannot say on whether this version is a good comparison or not.
My final thoughts are that I am going to give this book a second chance, but donating the audiobook. It was just too depressing to think of having to push the play button about half way in. I couldn't make it. ( )
  Krista23 | Aug 24, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I didn't like this book. I took what is clearly the longest time I've ever needed to finish an audiobook. I've been slowly, painfully, making my way through the audiobook since November. It's April. The only reason why I didn't give up was because I felt like I needed to finish it to properly explain why I didn't like it. But given all that time, I know exactly what parts I didn't like.

* There was almost no setting. Where was Elsinor? In what age is it taking place, truly? Other than time of year, weather, and details of the building and grounds, there is not a whole lot to explain where this story is taking place. The way the characters spoke was so outdated (perhaps due to the poetic nature of the entire book) that it lacked the appropriate tone for what I assumed was supposed to be a modern day setting in America.

* It's a true retelling. There is really not much deviation from the original other than the fact that it's Hamlet told from Ophelia's point of view. It would have done better to separate the story more from the original to make it stand stronger on its own.

* If you like poetic prose, then you might like this. But boy is it poetic! At times, it felt like I was listening to the longest poem ever, which meant that I grew confused as to what was going on. What is this star in her chest? So many times I grew disconnected with the story as we were grew lost in Ophelia's mind-poems.

* Abuse. I am not usually bothered by themes of sexual abuse and the different forms an abusive relationship can take. But it has to be done as tastefully as it can be and not condone such relationships or behavior. A Wounded Name was basically one long story about a teenage girl in a very abusive relationship, both emotionally and physically, where she might realize it's bad but 'couldn't get away'. I don't mean that it is fair to say that everyone is automatically strong enough to escape from such relationships. I completely understand how it is a complex issue with a lot of sensitivities. This book had so much abuse it went beyond unnecessary. If you have a trigger relating to abusive relationships, I recommend you do not read this.

* It doesn't take a genius to know that a retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view would be depressing. And boy is it. I don't think there was a light moment in the entire tragedy. The tragedy was not limited to just the ending. It was a very heavy throughout the entire book. It did not inspire me to want to continue continue with the story. I almost had to steel myself for the misery that was about to come out of my speakers every time I turned it on.

* The narrator was not one of my favorites. Choosing a British voice actress only further confused the setting. And while her voice/performance was definitely well suited for a poetic reading, listening to it for all 11 CDs was tough.

I think this is a very polarizing book. I am clearly on one end of the spectrum. I think I'll stick to the original. ( )
  deckfullojokers | May 9, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I decided to just give up on this audiobook, I listened to the first 2 discs or so and I just could not bring myself to finish it. I tried again the other day to listen to it and just could not get into it. I originally requested this book thinking it would be a modern retelling, I was sadly disappointed.
A Wounded Name is a retelling of a Shakespearean Classic, Hamlet. Told from the point of view of Ophelia, the reader begins the book with mental illness and death and it does not get any better from there. The time period the book is set in is confusing, or at least it was to me, they speak like it should be Shakespearean, but there is a note about cell phones and jeans, so right of the bat I felt like I was going crazy.

On top of being confused about the setting, the relationships all seemed creepy to me, there was a lot of verbal abuse and I also felt like the progression of the tale was leading to sexual abuse as well (maybe not- I didn't make it that far).

The beginning of the story was about grief and depression and that is all that I could feel while reading it. This may be a good thing, that the author creates those intense awful feelings, but for me it made me want to stop listening and move on. I really wanted to enjoy this one too. ( )
  sszkutak | Apr 2, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchinson is a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's set in an exclusive boarding school and is told from Ophelia's point of view. It's a stretch but I have enjoyed many other Hamlet inspired novels and thought this one had potential.

The copy I read was an audio provided by Recorded Books via LibraryThing. I think most of my negative reaction stems from the performance. The narrator uses an overly earnest, semi-British accent that my husband calls a "Blue Peter voice." It's an exaggerated performance with overdone enunciation.

But it's not just the performance. Some of the responsibility rides on the text itself. First and foremost, the pacing is SLOW. Yes, Shakespeare leaves enough plot holes to drive a truck through, but A Wounded Name in its attempt to fill them up, manages to make every single scene drag (even with hitting fast forward). The opening funeral of Hamlet Sr., for example, takes the entire first disc (roughly 75 agonizing minutes). ( )
  pussreboots | Feb 27, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I heard about this retelling of Hamlet set in a semi-modern private high school and told from the point of view of Ophelia, I was worried that it would be like the dubious graphic novel retellings I've seen of other classic literature.

This, however, is different. It's more like a fairy tale retelling, haunting and odd, where the fairies are as terrifying as they are magical. It's a picture of madness and depression told with a modern psychology eye but in almost classical prose.

I though the audiobook narrator did an excellent job of rendering Ophelia, mad and sane at once, filled with the passions of a teenager who you know is never going to see the end of the story.

It's a beautiful rendering of the classical tale from another perspective, shining light into different smaller tragedies within the whole. It's not an easy thing to read, watching the characters spiral into oblivion, but it's definitely a unique take on the tragedy.

Note: this book is likely very triggering for depression, self-harm, suicide -- some of it is as one might expect from the source, some goes beyond. ( )
  terriko | Feb 17, 2014 |
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A reimagining of the world and story of Hamlet--from Ophelia's perspective and set in an American boarding school.

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