A story of deceit, love, and betrayal, Ophelia is the retelling of Hamlet told from a young girl’s perspective. The story is about how a young girl Ophelia is sent to the royal court of Denmark to become a respectable lady and overcome the troubles she faces there, as she grows older.
Although I wouldn’t award the author of Ophelia, Lisa Klein, a prestigious book award, she was still entertaining. Throughout the book, Klein had her characters rehearsing an endless repertoire of romantic, poetic banter that often left the reader slightly confused, but still getting the general jist of the words.Sometimes this style of writing left me wondering whether this book was indeed written a couple hundred years ago; but then Klein would stop this train of thought by intervening with much more modern phrases, words, and sentences.
Throughout the book, Klein kept me on the edge of my seat when looking back I remembered that I already knew the end of the story. Klein used a predictable plot line but was able to disguise it until the reader finished the book. However, some less predictable material in the book was when Ms. Klein continued the story where the original story ended, changing the original mood of the romance from a tragedy with a sad ending to a tragedy with a happyish ending.
When Klein wrote this book I believe she was targeting teen girls. For one thing, the average seventh grader wouldn’t know what Klein meant when she wrote
“‘You are unkind’ she intoned like a petulant child”.
There were many words and phrases like this throughout the book.
The other reason for saying that teenage girls are the target audience is that many of the morals and issues in the book were things that boys, for the most part, could never relate to. Even just the teenage girl mentality throughout the entire book would boggle the average teenage boys mind.
A good part of the book was, does he love me? Now what dress should I wear with this comb? He just kissed me, OMG! That’s not to say that the entire book was that vapid, but, there were definite underlying strands of teenage girlishness throughout the book.
Because of “Thou art’s” and the same general plot line, Ophelia is quite similar to Romeo and Juliet. Along with the way the persons in both the books spoke and conversed, many of the same issues are addressed by the characters as well. For instance all of the characters spoke with the same long lyrical sentences that no mere mortal could possibly come up with on the spot.
I think this reflects strongly on both the authors. They definitely wanted to put the readers in a certain mood: that being a whimsical, romantic, one.
Another way that Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet are similar is that the characters, especially the female ones, face a lot of the same issues. Some of these issues were: arranged marriages and getting secretly married to someone you actually loved (without your parents approval of course).
Klein and Shakespeare both had their characters act in much the same way, and because Klein’s story came much later than Shakespeare’s, to be truly honest, I believe that she copied his story of Romeo and Juliet. For example, both Ophelia and Juliet are strong, and, though unusual for the times they are set in, educated young ladies. Both of their forbidden loves (Hamlet and Romeo) either kill themselves or get themselves killed with poison when their brides drink a vial of potion that makes them look dead to the world.
To say the least, Klein borrowed a lot of Shakespeare’s plot lines.
All in all, I enjoyed this book very much, but I could not give it a full 10 stars for several reasons. It had a sappy ending with an easy solution which turned me off.
One of the reasons plays such as Hamlet are called tragedy’s is because they are, well, tragic.
Klein also took quite a bit of creative license and completely changed the way that the main character acted, turning the original character of Ophelia from a weak rather helpless girl to a much stronger independent character. Although I found Ophelia’s transformation a common in many books aimed at girls, but relatively pleasing change I was rather disappointed by Klein’s inability to come up with a ending that was not like Romeo and Juliet. So all in all I must give this book 7.5 stars out of 10