on Dec. 13, 2010
I loved Hamlet & studied it, so was very familar with the plot, themes & characters. I have a number of critisisms and a number of complements of this novel. Firstly, I enjoyed the South African setting, I know relatively little about this culture, language & society, so I did enjoy the exposure to that.
Matt as Hamlet was not completely convincing to me. He was a forlorn, tragic character, appearing to be a victim of his environment, although I was repeatedly disheartened by his lack of initiative. I was amazed that he mustered the strength to avenge his father's murder.
Ophabia was probably my favorite character, naive, but well-meaning--I did think her suicide was well-described and fitting of Ophelia. I had to go look up Phillip Glass's music and found the music and reference to "The Hours" to add significantly to the whole scene. As in the movie it was bewildering to me to see a young person with the possibility of a long, fruitful life despair. I guess my own worldview isn't quite pessimistic enough to jive with this.
Matt's mother, Trudy was unbelivably despicable, I was trying to draw a comparison to Hamlet's mother, but I couldn't quite do it. I did think there was some maternal love in that case, wheras Trudy made a mockery of the word "maternal".
I found the book to be an easy enough read, the last third was certainly the page-turning part, prior to that there was a lot to wade through between the apocalyptic, intellectual dialogue and another level of Matt's self-destruction. I can appreciate the sense of impending doom, but at the same time found the concept of the 50/50 Foundation hopelessly Utopian, inevitably doomed to failure. Although I have to agree that this recurring dialogue emphasized the impending doom of everyone in the book.
I did really enjoy the local Medicine Man scenes and it was intriguing to me to ses that juxtaposed with the Western Medicine.
I don't think I'd neccesarily choose to read another in the Shockspeare series, if more should appear, much as I love Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth and other plays, I honestly think I would prefer to read a straightforward thriller by this author.