Saturday 17 February 2024

Book Review: Hamlet is Not OK by R.A. Spratt (YA Fantasy)

Title: Hamlet is Not OK
Author: R.A. Spratt
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 4 July 2024
Pages: 240
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Selby hates homework. She would rather watch daytime television – anything to escape the tedium of school, her parents’ bookshop and small-town busybodies. So Selby didn’t plan to read Hamlet. She certainly never planned to meet him. This novel transports Selby, and the reader, into the cold and crime-ridden play itself. Here she meets heavy with grief, the young prince is overthinking and over everything. Selby can relate. But unlike Hamlet, Selby isn’t afraid of making decisions. In her world, Selby is used to feeling overlooked. But in the bloody, backstabbing world of Shakespeare, Selby’s good conscience and quiet courage might just save some lives . . . hopefully before Hamlet stabs one of her classmates.


Hamlet is Not OK appealed to me when I read the blurb as I am a huge Shakespeare fan. However, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. On the plus side, perhaps it's a work that will help young people become interested in Shakespeare and not think of it only as something forced on them at school, and I applaud that aim. If it has that effect, I'll be happy. The plot idea was also entertaining, even if it felt rather like fanfiction. This book was advertised as YA, but while the age of the characters matched that, the writing felt Middle Grade. I was also irritated by some of the dumbing-down going on, and the fact that Hamlet didn't seem the least fazed by his journey to the future, which led to so many anachronisms, such as him seeming to know what 'police' meant etc. Finally, while it may be nitpicking, it also irked me that the author's attempts to write Shakespeare-like dialogue when not directly quoting lines from the play resulted in incorrect usage, such as mistaking thou versus thy. Overall, though entertaining on one level, I found this book too 'dumbed-down' to be truly satisfying, with too many plot holes left unanswered. I am giving it three stars, though, as I do like the idea of making Shakespeare interesting and accessible to younger readers.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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