Thursday, August 8, 2013

"To Be Or Not To Be," A Hamlet "Choose Your Own Adventure" for Adults

"To be or not to be?"

Ryan North is allowing readers to decide the answer to that famous question. The Canadian writer who is the creator and author of Dinosaur Comics is now the author of To Be Or Not To Be. North recreates Hamlet in a Choose Your Own Adventure format. But North greatly modernizes and extends Shakespeare's original play into a 768-page book. Readers first decide to be Prince Hamlet, King Hamlet, Sr., or Ophelia; they then exercise control of how their character interacts with others.

North funded his project using Kickstarter where he raised over half a million dollars, 2,904 percent of his goal. He raised his original goal of twenty thousand dollars, meant to hire an illustrator, within the first four hours. He told the Toronto Star that the extra funds he received are being put toward printing the prequel and sequel in full-color and donating hundreds of books to schools and libraries.

A friend of mine who got an early copy by helping to fund the project through Kickstarter brought over his copy; our friends had read some of it in the car and had died after the first page. We were pleased; this seemed to be a true nod to the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth.

For my first read, I decided to be Ophelia...goodness knows that I wanted to help her make some better decisions this time around. I was seemingly too good at doing so; the story ended with Ophelia and Hamlet living happily in love until a ripe old age. Pretty satisfying and lovely but not very Hamlet-esque.

But that's okay because one of the best aspects of books written in this style is the ability to read it over and over again with the experience of reading a completely different book. As a kid, I would read each book until I'd exhausted every possibility. With a book this size, I'm not sure if I can handle that...

...Sure I can. Time to buy my own copy.

To Be Or Not To Be is available for $28.95 at