In brief: It’s Hamlet but not as you know it.
The good: Great introduction to Shakespeare for any age. Plus, the story is a cracker!
The not-so-good: Some of the classic lines are lost to emojis.
Why I chose it: Thanks to Penguin Random House for these cute books.
Publisher: Random House Australia
My rating: 9 out of 10
Confession time: I don’t really know the story of Hamlet all that well. I didn’t study it at school and I haven’t seen it as a movie/play. Yes, I know there are some classic lines (think ‘to be or not to be’ and poor Yorick) but I didn’t know the story except something about a king and his mother. Srsly Hamlet changed that for me. By ‘translating’ the play into text speak and voice memos (something I understand a little better than Shakespeare, although I did have to make occasional use of the glossary at the back – what is TL;DR:?) I could really get into the whole storyline. And I found is fascinating – what a great story! It involves love, murder, deceit, hate, anger and some crazy ideas. I don’t know if I’m ready to handle the original yet, but I would feel more comfortable knowing the storyline.
Here’s an example of the format of the book:
Unfortunately poor Yorick isn’t in this version, although ‘to be or not to be’ gets a modern update thanks to emojis (just look at the cover). Once again, I think (and have now tested) that these books are a good way to get teens interested in Shakespeare. They’d be a great supplement to studying the play or as a first introduction. There’s modern updates that will keep teens entertained (one of the things Hamlet complains about is how Claudius always uses filters on his images) – if you’re a purist, you might not like these, but then you probably wouldn’t be reading this book! There’s also some jokes about autocorrect, which I thought was funny – it kind of turns the whole idea of classics on their head. Both adults and teens will enjoy this book if they’re after a chuckle, as well as getting a feel for the story. It’s a light, fun read.