Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet meets Rebel Without a Cause. Hamlet is one mad prince. Not even his desire for his childhood friend Ophelia can quell his lust to avenge his father's murder. As Hamlet's frustration mounts, the body count climbs, and things get more and more rotten in the state of Denmark. Why It Is for Us: Marsden amps up the sexual tension at Elsinore. The Danish prince is a hottie in black denim and the star of Ophelia's sweaty fantasies. It will not take a Freudian scholar to catch the Oedipal overtones in Hamlet's relationship with his adulterous mother, Gertrude.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Near the end of this retelling of one of Shakespeare's most famous works, Hamlet realizes he doesn't want to create a new world, he just wants to "tweak it a little." Indeed, Australian author Marsden (Out of Time) retains the familiar series of events (though more time transpires) as Hamlet progresses into madness, while adjusting the setting (the opening scenes are of teenage Hamlet playing soccer with Horatio) and incorporating unsettling but illuminating sexual and psychological undercurrents that highlight the rottenness in Denmark. Marsden occasionally invokes the present through mentions of dress (Hamlet wears black jeans) and colloquialisms (sore bums), but otherwise the story retains the modes of address and social norms of an older time. What he does remarkably well is to seamlessly insert original passages-" 'There's a divinity that shapes our ends,' Horatio muttered, 'rough-hew them how we will,' "-and to retain the feel of Shakespeare's tale with skilled paraphrase. Readers will need to be familiar with the original to get certain references, but Marsden's is a riveting version that might just lead reluctant readers to the Bard. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-The story of Hamlet seems tailor-made for YA literature; it includes angst, unrequited love, drama, obsession, family issues, and self-doubt. In turning Shakespeare's play into a novel, Marsden has made it very accessible. The book is brief and the story moves quickly. Hamlet's indecision does not stall the action, but rather drives the narrative-readers wonder what, if anything, he will do. The setting is contemporary, but feels timeless. Marsden stays true to Shakespeare's text, while modernizing the dialogue. He makes the prince a sympathetic teen who is struggling with his hormones, his grief, and the fact that his uncle is now his stepfather. He is lonely, not only because of his royalty, but also because his drive to avenge his father has caused him to commit murder. Hamlet wants to be a man, but he's not sure if he's quite ready. This is a wonderful treatment of the play: engaging, gripping, dark, and lovely.-Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Although there are sporadic modern touches Hamlet plays football and wears black jeans Marsden's novelization of this English Lit stalwart is a straightforward retelling involving kings, queens, castles, and swords. Marsden's ability to resist hipping up the details allows him to focus on the guts of the saga,and the result is passionate and haunting. But this isn't CliffsNotes, either the thorny dialogue maintains a halting, otherworldly tone that evokes the Bard even as it borrows only a scattering of his best lines. At just over two hundred pages, the story is certainly streamlined. To be or not to be is a dialogue rather than a monologue, and the plot has been shaved to the teen essentials: the frustrated sexual longing between Hamlet and Ophelia, the friendship of the loyal Horatio, and the bitter rage Hamlet feels toward his mother and stepfather. This earnest effort never once feels strained. True, an author's note might have been illuminating, but the reviewer doth protest too much.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
To be or not to be considered a worthy heir to the Bard's work, that is the question. Marsden, best known for The Tomorrow Series, refashions Hamlet into an angst-filled story that follows the broad strokes of Shakespeare's plot but cuts and changes much of the detail. This Hamlet is genuinely disturbed: He spies on Ophelia as well as a masturbating kitchen boy, then mutilates small animals. Sexual frustration drives him, yet the author downplays Hamlet's obsession with his mother's sex life. Shakespeare's language is skillfully reworked into contemporary speech and is pared to essentials; sadly, though, most nuance is also pared away. Ophelia becomes Hamlet's less-intelligent reflection (beautiful, white-haired, thwarted and crazy) while Horatio does even less than his antecedent. While the robust language and anachronisms (Hamlet wears jeans) feel fresh, there's a distressing lack of depth; teens looking for greater understanding of Shakespeare's work or for a unique spin will turn away from the unsympathetic characters with little sense of catharsis, fulfillment or understanding. Ultimately, this lacks any antic disposition. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.