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Hamlet: A Novel by John Marsden

Hamlet: A Novel (2008)

by John Marsden

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
it good
  AhmedMorris | May 1, 2016 |
4Q, 3P - high school and adult. This is an engaging re-envisioning of Hamlet in contemporary environs. ( )
  alphaselene | Jun 9, 2013 |
I read the book Hamlet: A Novel by John Marsden. I chose this book because, while I am a fan of Shakespeare, I don't always understand everything and I know I am far from the only one who has this problem.

The other reason I chose this book is because I often hear teens complaining that they hate Shakespeare because they can't understand it. Hamlet: A Novel takes the original play and presents it using modern English. It even incorporates modern events, such as Hamlet and Horatio playing soccer. Marsden is able to bring the tragic story and its intriguing characters to life in a narrative that is psychologically intense and complex. Marsden's portrayal is witty, lyrical, and engaging.

So, while the author incorporates modern events in the story, he retains the original storyline, doing it justice.

Here is a quote from the book that I believe would generate a discussion:

“A beggar who goes fishing may use a worm which has feasted on a king as his bait. And the fisherman may eat the fish caught with that bait. What does this tells us? Well, it tells us that a king may progress through the guts of a pauper.”

I gave Hamlet: A Novel a VOYA rating of 5Q: Hard to imagine better written, and a Popularity rating of 3P: Will appeal with pushing. ( )
  She-ra77 | May 25, 2013 |
I read this book because Hamlet is my absolute favorite of all of Shakespeare's plays. I even have a framed picture of Arthur Hughes' Ophelia on my wall. But as I began, I did note that the author focused more on the mental state of Hamlet, his relationship with Horatio (which I appreciated) and the notion that Hamlet's father is very cruel in his intention of making his only son do the dirty work of avenging him. He also maintained all the major scenes of the original play. Well, to a point. Marsden left out the crucial scene of Hamlet confronting Ophelia about whether or not she is spying for her father and dragging her about the room. Remember, "get thee to a nunnery?" Why is this scene crucial you ask? Because it is the one scene where you pity Ophelia more than you do Hamlet. She is terrified of him in this scene. Not only that, it makes the audience remember her as a character. Instead in Marsden's book, one minute she's obsessing over Hamlet's beautiful figure and next minute she's dead. She is quite forgotten. While alive, Marsden made her appear not as a pure, sweet, pitiable character but as obsessed, emotional, and sexually starved. Ophelia is indeed supposed to be naive, but of a different sort entirely. Marsden also neglected the second appearance of Hamlet's father's ghost. This is absolutely necessary, because the reader (and the audience if we speak of the original) will forget him as character as well. In the end, the only characters that Marsden did justice to were Horatio and Hamlet. For the reader it feels like Marsden would've preferred to write a novel focusing on those two instead. Shakespeare wrote these scenes for a reason, and Marsden seems to treat important secondary characters as though they are only passing through. Thank goodness it is a quick novel or I probably would've stopped reading it altogether. ( )
  asukamaxwell | Dec 12, 2012 |
Reason for Reading: I enjoy Shakespeare retellings and Hamlet is probably my favourite Shakespeare.

The book tells the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The plot is there and all the major points are present. The author uses some of the original language while modernizing it yet keeping all the most famous quotes such as "to be or not to be". So to read this book one does get the plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet without having to read or experience the original. But I was not impressed with this retelling at all.

The darkness, brooding atmosphere of the original is missing. The time period is vague, it could be the recent past or timeless ages past. But most of all the portrayals of Hamlet and Ophelia are nothing as they are in the original. Ophelia is shown as nothing but a wanton sex-craving girl who dreams of nothing but mentally luring Hamlet to come to her. Her suicide is all matter of fact and hardly anyone seems to even care, least of all Hamlet who has much larger problems to deal with. Of course, as in the play, major plot point, it is Ophelia's brother who is upset at her death.

My greatest joy in the original plot of Hamlet is the question of his sanity. The movie starring Kenneth Branagh is a fabulous adaptation portraying this. Has Hamlet really gone insane or is he only pretending? This whole issue has been removed from Marsden's version. People around Hamlet speak of his madness as they would today of a teenager's rebellious stage. Hamlet himself speaks of his madness as if it were a cold. This version lacks passion and the intricacies of the original plot. And on top of all that, the appearance of Hamlet's father's ghost is a very brief single episode which, of course, plants the seed of revenge but is hardly an experience that could cause madness in anyone. All to say this is rather boring if you already know the plot of Hamlet and I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction; there must be something better out there. Not recommended. ( )
1 vote ElizaJane | Sep 16, 2011 |
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To Warwick Gregory in memoriam
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'Do you believe in ghosts?' Horatio asked him.
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Grieving for the recent death of his beloved father and appalled by his mother's quick remarriage to his uncle, Hamlet, heir to the Danish throne, struggles with conflicting emotions, particularly after his father's ghost appeals to him to avenge his death.… (more)

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Candlewick Press

An edition of this book was published by Candlewick Press.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921351470, 1921520493

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