Review of Ophelia by Lisa Klein



As a teen, I read Shakespeare. For FUN. I loved his plays and even watched a lot of movies based on them. Of all the plays he wrote, Hamlet was my absolute favorite one. So when I found out about this book I had to take it out of the library. I thought it would be interesting to see it from different character’s point of view.

In this re-imagining of Shakespeare”s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and ultimately, Ophelia must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. (Taken from Chapters Indigo. Parts were cut off as I thought it revealed too much of the plot.)

When I first started reading this book I loved it. The chemistry between Hamlet and Ophelia was there and it was definitely interesting. It’s a total different take on the play and an interesting view on the characters within. It was interesting how background information is provided (as how Ophelia and Hamlet met for the first time) and how they spent their childhood years. So although it does deviate from the original play it’s not so much or goes too far out of context. For a while at least.

The parts with Ophelia and Hamlet in love are well done. As mentioned before the chemistry is there and Hamlet stays true as there is definitely emotion and passion. I do have a problem with Ophelia later on. She becomes needy and really clingy. It got annoying and although there’s lots of miscommunication between her and Hamlet, all she really had to do was ask him what the problem was instead of whining about it constantly and forgetting about it when he started to “act” normal. Hamlet did sort of reveal his agenda to Ophelia, but perhaps he didn’t spell it out for her and she just assumed Hamlet stopped loving her altogether. For crying out loud Ophelia. You were raised like a tomboy and that sort of thing affected you when you could have just approached Hamlet and even punched him if you wanted to? That kind of contrast was a little too outrageous for me. I found Laertes different. I never really expected him to be quite the jerk portrayed in the book and always thought of him as an older brother who was protective towards Ophelia. I thought that was a little skewed.

So, I have to say, the first half of the book was good. Despite some character flaws with Ophelia. The little twist with her finding out who really murdered the King was good, and her relationship with Gertrude proved interesting as well. However Gertrude also got moody, and whiny. It was as if the female characters just suddenly developed a syndrome to become this way all throughout the novel. Of all the characters in the book though, I really liked Horatio, he seems to be the only character that stays constant and true throughout the entire book without the severe personality changes.

Now we get to the last half. I can’t believe I actually went through with it too. I admit the alternate ending to Ophelia’s fate was rather interesting but the story just went to a halt and started to crawl. There were pages and pages of Ophelia’s time at a convent which did nothing to advance to plot and had me baffled as to wondering where this was going. It was borderline preachy as Ophelia tries to “find” herself while her time at the convent. I didn’t care for this part. In fact I skimmed through most of it because it was extremely boring. I actually skimmed the last 50 or so pages until the very last few to see the outcome of Ophelia. I rather figured it would end up that way, as the book slightly hinted at it. It was satisfactory, but reading dozens of boring pages isn’t worth it. Also the theme of revenge is just so overdone in this book. Sure, it’s the main theme, but it’s just so overplayed and over exaggerated it makes the emotion fake.

So, would I recommend this? yes, and no. Yes, if you’re not a Shakespeare fan. You might just enjoy it. No if you’re a very perfectionist type and love Shakespeare. Like me you’d probably wonder  who is this whiny girl (who is also a tomboy) and what has she done to Ophelia. Also, the last half of the book might just put you off of the whole thing. It’s very frustrating and unfortunate as it has good potential but just fell apart. It could have definitely been better.

I give it a 4 out of 10.