Hamlet

Hamlet

Book rating: 03 Hardback

By (author) John Marsden

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  • Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
  • Format: Hardback | 229 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 213mm x 18mm | 431g
  • Publication date: 11 August 2009
  • ISBN 10: 076364451X
  • ISBN 13: 9780763644512
  • Illustrations note: 1-COLOR
  • Sales rank: 130,494

Product description

The Dane as never seen before -- in a daring, dazzling, sexy prose retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy by best-selling author John Marsden. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but Hamlet can't be sure what's causing the stench. His rage at his mother's infidelities -- together with his greed for the sensual Ophelia and his dead father's call to revenge a "murder most foul" -- have his mind in chaos, and he wants to scatter his traitorous uncle's insides across the fields. But was it really his father's ghost that night on the ramparts, or a hell-fiend sent to trick him? "Action is hot," he tells Ophelia, who lives shut up in a tower with her longings and lust. "Action is courage, and reflection is cowardly. Picking up the knife has the colors of truth. As soon as I hesitate. . . ." In this dark, erotically charged, beautifully crafted novel, John Marsden brings one of Shakespeare's most riveting characters to full-blooded life in a narrative of intense psychological complexity.

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Author information

John Marsden is the author of thirty popular and acclaimed novels, including the classic Tomorrow series and The Ellie Chronicles. He says, "HAMLET's done a good job of haunting my life. I read the play when I was sixteen, saw a film of it when I was seventeen, and haven't been able to shake the story since." John Marsden lives in Australia.

Customer reviews

By Jane Emily Sullivan 14 Jun 2012 5

Quite beautiful and fluent, with the brilliance of Shakespeare's mind against the glory of Marsden's writing, this book is one of my favorite books. Although the story is told with current, modern English none of the original vision or power is lost.

The simplicity of the text means that the reader can delve deeply into the emotions, meanings and characters. We get to see into Hamlet's soul as he takes on the story and we get to really understand the plot.

The story holds its darkness and its power. The feeling of tension in the story was especially powerful for me, as a reader, as the book was propelled to it's incredible, terrible and yet inevitable end.

This piece by John Marsden is a brilliant adaption of the original piece, bringing it from the unreadable play to the delicious novel. From one writer, Shakespeare, to another, Marsden, this book is quite beautiful.

By Nicola Mansfield 17 Sep 2011 2

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.

By TeensReadToo 28 Sep 2010 4

Something's rotten in Denmark, but this time, it's not Shakespeare's normally confusing play. Marsden does a fantastic job of taking the Bard's poetic writing and updating it for modern readers.

Hamlet still faces issues the original author set for him (an unfaithful mother, a murderous uncle, the hauntingly attractive Ophelia), but the reader is able to delve more deeply into the characters as they are brought to life by Marsden's beautiful prose.

Since this is a modern version, it does have a few instances of cursing as well as some sexual innuendo, so I feel it would be better suited to older teens and adults.

Thanks to a fantastic high school English teacher, I never had trouble understanding HAMLET, but I enjoyed reading Marsden's version and seeing a more modern twist on the story.

Review quote

"John Marsden has done what a legion of educators, my parents, a great number of my more literate friends and my read-anything-you-can-get-your-hands-on grandmother failed to do. He has made me, for one glorious moment, love Shakespeare. Marsden's version of HAMLET is smart, tough, lyrical, thoroughly readable and uncompromisingly engaging. Back off, Mrs. Phelps (my high school English teacher). I now get HAMLET." - Chris Crutcher -- Quote