Published by Poppy on July 5th, 2011
Genres: contemporary, retellings, young adult
Buy on Amazon
Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.
Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.
Poor Pixie is never going to recommend me another book if I keep shooting down all of her book titles. I was a bit worried about this one, but it was a Hamlet retelling, and I do enjoy some modern day Shakespeare, so I through, if nothing else, that I could get something out of it.
I was so wrong.
The first thing that bothered me about the novel that it was set in Denmark, but it didn’t resemble Denmark. Ophelia was worried about attending a college she could afford. But a simple search from Wikipedia reveals that:
Almost all educational institutes in Denmark are free. This tuition-fee-less system applies to all students who:
- have been born in Denmark (including the Faroe Islands and Greenland); or
- hold a permanent resident visa; or
- Permanent residence permit (‘permanent opholdstilladelse’)
- Temporary residence permit that can be upgraded to a permanent one (‘midlertidig opholdstilladelse mmf varigt ophold’)
- Residence permit as the accompanying child of a non-EU/EEA parent holding a residence permit based on employment (§9a and §9m of the Danish Aliens Act – text in Danish)
- hold a humanitarian visa; or
- are from a country in the Nordic Council; or
- are from a country in the European Economic Area or European Union.
Hell, in most Scandinavian countries, they pay you to go to school. There were many instances where the culture of the book modeled after American society instead of Danish society. I completely understand when you are not able to visit the country, but is it too much to ask a writer to do some sort of research into the country that the story is set? Even if it was AI history, it was still insulting to have not a touch of Danish in any part of the book.
Next, let us look at the characters. Hamlet, we all know, is somewhat of a soft, spoiled prince before his father is murdered, which drives him towards madness. Understandable. I could take the mental break down and the boy-toy image of the off again/on again boyfriend status for Ophelia. They’re young and celebrities, it will happen. But how can I be expected to feel any ounce of pity or remorse or a drop of care for a someone who sexually assaults his girlfriend? In one scene, when Hamlet becomes angry with Ophelia, he shoves his hand down between her legs to embarrass her. You sick asshole, Hamlet. After that, I could not care less what happened to him.
And then there is placing all of the shame on Ophelia. When she breaks it off with Hamlet when she has to decide between Hamlet and her father, Hamlet takes off, huffy, and Ophelia can’t reach him. Later, he is seen with another girl, on the TV, so Ophelia, mind you, who has broken it off with him, starts to date another boy she is interested in. All hell breaks loose when Hamlet finds her. Horatio basically shames her. Towards the end, when things turn ugly, he throws some shade in her direction and tells her that it is her fault for dating another guy when the two of them were apart. I about lost it right then and there. If I wasn’t pages away from done, I would have tossed this out the window. She said no, she didn’t want to date him, because she was tired of picking sides, and even though he was going through one of the worst things in his life, she needed to take care of herself. And everyone, everyone, treated her like some cheating sneaky bag of crap because she….when home with another guy. In what world is this okay to make a girl feel like a sub-human because she dared to date another guy when she *gasps* broke up with her other boyfriend! How dare she! No, no, this is so not right.
It wasn’t like Ophelia was princess perfect herself. She was constantly putting down other girls who talked to Hamlet, who colored their hair “for attention”, for any girl who dared to stand out.
This entire book was a mess. I can’t even point out one thing that I enjoyed. This book gave me a migraine, and made me so angry that I couldn’t even read it some days.