Friday, January 6, 2017

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

 Summary from Goodreads:

When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?

My Review:

I went in with low expectations (I've only read one other Atwood novel and it was just an okay read) and found myself loving this retelling of The Tempest.

I would not call this a complete retelling, it has aspects of a retelling but did not limit itself to only using the plot of The Tempest. Instead, Atwood makes this novel her own and interweaves contemporary theater into the novel along with some aspects of The Tempest.

What I Enjoyed:

The humor. The humorous aspects are subtle and dry but it made reading Hag-Seed an enjoyable experience.

The plot. I was not expecting the plot Atwood gives us (I was expecting a more straight forward retelling) it was such an unique twist of Shakespeare and The Tempest. The idea of prisoners getting exposed to Shakespeare and even putting on the plays was a great one that made the novel standout. The ending was full of wit and action, the last part and twist was by far the best section of the novel!

There is also a supernatural aspect, it is a subtle one that kept with the main theme and feeling of the story.

The characters. It took me a bit to warm up to Felix (I tend to not like vengeful or spiteful characters) but I loved his journey throughout the novel. He ended up becoming one of my favorite characters. The side characters were fun as well, the prisoners that put on the play were full of personality and it was fun to read their modern twists/raps about The Tempest.

Plus I loved the fact that Felix, (AKA Mr. Duke), had his students only swear in
Shakespearean.

What I I had trouble with: 

However, I recommend rereading The Tempest or at least reading the plot summary that Atwood supplies at the end of the novel. The only thing I struggled with was the plot and the various characters names from The Tempest.

I recommend checking out this Shakespeare inspired novel, it was so much fun to read!!

My Rating:

5 Stars Out of 5 Stars

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