From the grinning skeletal face on the cover to the "good night, sweet prince" ending, this is a book that will breathe new life into one of my favorite plays by the Bard. I have loved HAMLET since my 12th grade teacher performed it for the class lo those many years ago. I have appreciated the other variants including Alan Gratz' hysterical SOMETHING ROTTEN and THE JOKER. What could Marsden's book possibly add? Here is HAMLET in prose but still with the feel of Shakespeare's words. Soliloquies are here though not in imabic pentameter (and I do hear some of you cheering about this; you know who you are). The book combines, effortlessly, the classic with a more contemporary feel. Hamlet and Horatio seem to be living in the "real" world. They play football and talk about subjects ranging from the mundane to the philosophical.
The innuendo and sexual content of the Bard's work is here as well though not quite as veiled. I suspect that will rattle some cages, but it will also bring readers in who might otherwise linger outside of Elsinore. Ophelia longs for Hamlet's touch; Hamlet wonders what it would be like to have her. Complex, uncompromising, violent, sensual, lyrical, and altogether absorbing, this may just be the story that draws readers to the Bard.
Now, to see how teens react. Will they, as I did, see all the connections to the play? Does it matter? Will they, once they have read the book, go on to read the play? Does that matter? I think that if they read this book willingly they will have sipped at Shakespeare's fountain. Perhaps it will slake their thirst. Perhaps they will long for more.