the tempest is one of my favorite of his plays, even though it is a problematic text, the reasons it is problematic make it interesting to study. in hag-seed, margaret atwood takes the basic outline and characters and thoroughly modernizes the play and allows it to stand on its own as a modern novel.
but the way she does it allows her to also explore the different textual interpretations of the play. in hag-seed you're not just reading a modern version of the tempest. you are close reading the original text. for a lit major who loved, loved, loved shakespeare and loved, loved, loved studying shakespeare it was so fun to read.
this re-telling works because it is so layered. a straightforward re-telling of the tempest would have been impossible. but the way it is framed, around the theater and around a prison, allows the author some liberties in making correlations. felix phillips aka felix duke is our prospero, but almost everyone else in the novel functions as a representation of two or three other characters. as a former student of shakespeare this worked for me, because it allowed me to make different connections and opened my eyes to some new interpretations. but if you don't know the play well and if you're not really a fan of the bard, it's still an enjoyable story about how revenge is a dish best served cold, but with lots and lots of preparation.
**hag-seed will publish on october 11, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/crown publishing (hogarth) in exchange for my honest review.