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on 10 May 2015
People will say 'your enjoyment depends on whether or not you find Ryan North funny' and that is true, but I'd add, 'It also helps if you get frustrated by Hamlet's inaction and the treatment of women in classic literature'. If at least half of all that is you, you'll probably laugh.

If you can't stand to see the classic pulled apart and prodded at, be cautious, but North's skill and style might still win you over. To Be or Not To Be is the best sort of parody - one that goes over every line in Shakespeare's original with a magnifying glass and mocks it mercilessly while still showing a thoughtful appreciation and fondness of the play. See any edition of 'Dinosaur Comics' for an idea of the kind of thorough analysis, smart-ass and righteously PC commentary and gleefully silly fourth-wall jokes you can expect. In the prologue, Ophelia is described as having 'a -1 weakness against water'.

Also be aware that this is an ebook rather than a game in the strictest sense - though it's very much an interactive 'choose your own adventure'. North takes the time to get as much as he can from the premise ('make fun of Hamlet'), sometimes allowing the player's choices to explore wild tangents that have less to do with the original play but are there as options for those who would rather help Claudius battle skeletons than pick apart another soliloquy. Throughout, though, the book goes to the trouble of adding multiple, widely-varied paths and alternate 'playable characters'.

The price tag is perhaps a little high, but the presentation attempts to justify it and doesn't skimp on quality illustrations from numerous respected webcomic authors, which is a very nice touch.

At one point in my first read-through I had Hamlet make up for his caution by turning into the Incredible Hulk over Ophelia's grave. I love it.
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'To Be or Not to Be' is a hilarious game that takes you through Hamlet, and various fictional Hamlet-related scenarios, in a reader-driven adventure. You can play as one of three characters and choose what to do next.

I was introduced to this text by a friend, who explained the basic concept before reading it to us in a book group. I was half expecting the whole thing to be in Shakespearean verse, but actually it's written in lively, humorous prose.

Our two turns produced entirely different but thoroughly enjoyable stories. The writer has not just come up with a brilliant idea but executed it beautifully.
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on 9 May 2015
I'm so glad I bought it. It has everything: hilarious prose, quotes from the actual play, parodies of some of its scenes, plot twists, silly rhymes, powerful illustrations, and a spoonful of healthy insanity which - I'm sure - the Bard himself would have much appreciated. Sometimes it is a bit too biased towards some characters, sometimes it is too harsh on others, maybe, but the general idea you get is that of a refreshing and always surprising rewriting of a beloved tale which we often take too seriously due to the themes it revolves around. It is said that parody is not meant to ridicule a work of art, but it is actually a way to honor it, to celebrate it as a masterpiece and to mark its importance in the history of art - literature, in this case. I couldn't agree more. A must-have for every Hamlet (and Shakespeare) enthusiast.
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on 3 July 2015
Look, at my first read through, Ophelia flirted with Cleopatra and then became an independent agent who hunts down terrorists.

I think you can tell from that one sentence whether or not the book is for you.
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on 19 January 2014
Ryan North needs to dedicate himself to doing this full time. Actually, no he doesn't. Life without dinosaur comics wouldn't be worth living. Wasn't that Aristotle? I think it was.
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on 1 September 2015
one of the best books i own, had a great time with it, i don't know if i will ever run out of options, it's brilliantly put together, i recommend it, you will not regret buying it!
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on 23 February 2014
Great teaching tool and alternative history for a great work of literature. And that is the word count used up.
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on 7 August 2014
Honestly the best book on my bookshelf. If you're a Hamlet fan it's a must!
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on 13 January 2015
Everything about it is brilliant
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on 3 November 2015
Brilliant, passes hours of time
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