Choose Your Own Adventure, Shakespearean Style

I never turned down a Chose Your Own Adventure book when I was younger. I loved being able to choose what happened next and I would often read through almost every possible choice and outcome. (Who else was completely bummed when you made a choice and your character dies 2 pages in?) Ryan North must have been a fan too, because he has created a Choose Your Own version of Hamlet that is also a graphic novel!?!?!

Called To Be or Not To Be, North’s version choose your character, too. North told the Guardian that you have three choices. Hamlet is an “emo teen in his early 30’s”, Ophelia has a “+1 science stat, but she’s also got a -1 weakness against water,” and Hamlet’s pop, the King, “who (SURPRISE) dies on the first page and becomes a ghost. And then we make fun of you for dying on the first page, but you can become a ghost and must INVESTIGATE YOUR OWN MURDER that you TOTALLY SLEPT THROUGH because you got SLEEPY IN AN ORCHARD.”

If you want to follow the traditional story path, there are skulls to indicate which choice you should make. But if you could care less about Shakespeare’s version, you will appreciate that it is written in modern English (the larger speeches are also shown in their original iambic pentameter glory) and that North added in the pirate fight scene Shakespeare chose mention, but not to include. Why? North said, “You get to fight PIRATES. With SWORDS. And yes OF COURSE you can choose which body part you cut off. Why would you write a book where you can’t do that is my question.”

North also points out many other innovative features that make me really want to see To Be or Not To Be. “I’ve worked to include every amazing thing possible in a book like this. There’s loops, alternate endings, secret paths and things that I’m pretty sure haven’t even been done before in the medium.”

There is no release date to To Be or Not To Be yet, but it is confirmed that publisher Breadpig will donate all proceeds from the book to the Canadian Cancer Society. (North’s wife was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.)

The To Be or Not To Be project is currently on Kickstarter, but only until December 21st. (That’s 3 more days!) The more money raised, the more North intends to include in his book. “The more money we raise, the more deaths get illustrated, until we have all 110 deaths done.” A prequel adventure called Poor Yorick is another possibility based on the amount of funds raised. Everyone who donates $15 or more gets a copy of the book be it paperback or digital (many get both). The delivery date is estimated at May 2013.


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