4.0 14
by John Marsden

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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VOYA - Catherine Gilmore-Clough
The world does not lack retellings of Shakespeare's greatest tales, but to successfully reprise the story of Hamlet in a way both accessible and opaque, familiar yet transformed, seems an unimaginable feat. Yet Marsden does so almost entirely successfully. The story speaks to the familiar anxieties of young people: alienation from their parents, the uncertainty of which friendships can be trusted, the struggle to identify one's purpose and place in the world. Although the cadences and some occasional lines are drawn from the original work, the contemporary feeling of the story will draw in readers and illuminate what is, for many, a too-complicated and confusing story. Australian Marsden, perhaps best known for the strong adventure stories of the Tomorrow series, captures a sense of place that contains both modern Denmark and Shakespeare's timeless setting. Marsden's characters may be more contemporary—both Hamlet and Ophelia as well as their companions are typical teenagers with the attendant longings and agonies—yet they retain the feel of the play by persisting as enigmas. No real explanation for their madness is ever proffered. Overall a darkly atmospheric tale from the first appearance of Hamlet's father's ghost to the tragic conclusion, it is also a compelling read that is, unsurprisingly, not for the faint of heart. Reviewer: Catherine Gilmore-Clough
Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
Hamlet's father is dead. His mother has hastily remarried; her new husband (the brother of Hamlet's father and Hamlet's uncle) now rules Denmark. The lovely Ophelia, closely guarded by her father, is ever in his thoughts. Now the ghost of his father (Is this specter his father's ghost or some hellish fiend sent to trick him?) calls upon Hamlet to avenge a "murder most foul." "There are crimes that shriek to heaven to be avenged." Much more than an interesting alternative to Cliff Notes or Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare, this retelling of one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies brings the players to full-blooded life. Mild profanity and sensual passages reflect adolescent desires but are always in keeping with Shakespeare's tale. This extraordinarily well-written novel may be the thing in which to catch the attention of all teens required to read Shakespeare's play. Although written for young adults, a thoroughly enjoyable read for all. Recommended. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)
From the Publisher
"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

Product Details

Candlewick Press
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HL760L (what's this?)
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Meet the Author

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.

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Hamlet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hunt res 6.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is simply amazing and full of genius. I love Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and to see it in a new way fills me with excitement. The author has managed to take a great play and twist it and tweak it just enough to give it more life. He cleverly follows the plot and keeps an excellent portion of quotes from the play while adding a little something more to it. I was not dissapointed with this book at all and it makes understanding "Hamlet" easy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Razor result 1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kill result 1
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At 'Piol' result one.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Midnight black tabby she cat with crimson eyes and ears padded in "what do you need Bloodspring?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
/-\ The large Tabby padded in, sitting in wait. /-\
Anonymous More than 1 year ago