Review: To Be or Not To Be: A Choosable-Path Adventure by Ryan North

To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path AdventureTitle: To Be or Not To Be: A Choosable-Path Adventure

Author: Ryan North
Genres: Humor

‘To Be or Not To Be is a choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet by New York Times best-selling author Ryan North. Play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet–if you want to die on the first page and play as a ghost. It’s pretty awesome! Readers can follow Yorick skull markers to stick closely to Shakespeare’s plot, or go off-script and explore alternative possibilities filled with puzzles and humor.

Each ending in the book is accompanied by a full-color, full-page illustration by one of the 65 most excellent artists working today, so each rereading yields new surprises and rewards. Ryan’s prose is, as always, colloquial and familiar but full of clever references, vivid imagination, and only the most choice of jokes. Inventive devices like a book-within-a-book (to mirror Hamlet’s play-within-a-play) take full advantage of the gamebook medium and liven up the original story for even the most disinterested of Shakespeare readers!To Be or Not to Be became a sensation when it launched: over 15,000 people backed the book in just one month, and it remains the number-one most funded publishing project ever on
To be, or not to be: that is the adventure!’

My Thoughts


Before I begin this review, I have a confession to make: I have never read Hamlet. Or rather, I have never read any Shakespeare, except for a few sonnets, and I’ve seen one of his plays because a friend of mine was in it, but that’s it. I have a basic grasp of what Hamlet’s about, but I can, in no way, compare this to the original story. That being said, this book was the perfect (and probably most fun) introduction to Shakespeare’s work.

I’ve read (or rather, played) through To Be or Not To Be a few times, and I had such a fun time! I died, married the love of my life, led a skeleton army and I even became a ghost marine biologist (???). The options were endless, and each time I went through a story, it changed drastically. It felt magical. And above all, it was absolutely hilarious. Ryan North’s writing had me laughing out loud quite a few times. 

However, I did grow a bit tired of it. The book is basically just an endless number of jokes, and while it is entertaining and hilarious, it got a bit too much. This is definitely not the kind of book I could read for hours on end. 

Even though I don’t 100% love it, the book is still wonderful and I’d definitely encourage you to pick it up if you like Shakespeare, or if you just like having a laugh.

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