Shakespeare’s works stand almost alone in the canon of English literature, not only because they’re inherently good but also by how much they advanced the English language.
Ole Bill, for instance, was the first writer (we know of) to use over two thousand words we now take for granted, while Hamlet alone gave us the sayings “brevity is the soul of wit”, “be cruel to be kind” and “the lady doth protest too much”. You just can’t imagine Dan Brown having the same kind of impact four centuries after his death.
So, few people are brave enough to claim that they can improve on the original tale of murder and madness. This doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with it, though, and for once we’re not talking about yet another ill-conceived film adaptation.
Instead, this is a “choose your own adventure” book: after each significant passage, the reader can select between two or more plot branches.
As you read on, these lead to any of over a hundred different endings (the whole book is 750 pages long), some of which are nothing short of hilarious. You can therefore read this book dozens of times without getting bored, though it’s probably best to put the book down in between different narrative lines.
Aside from the often wacky plots, the writing itself is ultra-modern and much easier to follow than the original. This makes this book a good gift for a teenager whose idea of poetry starts and stops with Justin Bieber lyrics. People who’ve actually spent some time studying the original play will also enjoy its humor and what-if nature – the author clearly knows his Shakespeare and sprinkles the text with dozens of funny references only insiders will get.
This book is available in either paperback or Kindle format, but we’d definitely recommend paying extra for a real book.
Also, in case you like it, you’ll be happy to know that Romeo and Juliet has received the same treatment, with equally funny results.