Review: Hamlet is Not OK

Book cover art for Hamlet is not ok

Review: Hamlet is Not OK

Book cover art for Hamlet is not okHamlet is Not OK

Written by R. A. Spratt
Penguin Random House Australia, 2024

ISBN: 9780143779278 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781760148645 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781761340871 (Audiobook)
$20.99 CAD (Paperback)
$12.99 CAD (eBook)
$14.95 CAD (Audiobook)
224 pages

Ages: 12 to 16 years old

Review by: Andrew Desrochers

Sixteen-year-old Selby is not one for doing her homework. In preparation for her English essay on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Selby’s tutor has her read the play aloud, and Selby is quickly mesmerized by the words. That is, until she finds herself freezing on a castle parapet at midnight, Hamlet brandishing his sword, and demanding she identify herself. A historical fiction novel for those who’ve yet to study Shakespeare, Spratt’s writing allows the reader to gloss over direct quotes from the play without losing the plot. Readers are given a glimpse into Shakespeare’s life when he wrote Hamlet, and on mental illness in the Middle Ages. Written in the third-person past tense, Hamlet is Not OK reads more middle-grade than the first-person present perspective we expect from a young adult novel. The cover illustration by Jessica Cruickshank blends symbols from Hamlet like the skull with nods to the modern day, like the ‘R’ and ‘L’ marked on the toes of Selby’s trainers.