Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Booknote: William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Doescher, Ian, William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books, 2013. ISBN:  978-1-59474-637-6.

"In a time so long ago begins our play,
in a star-crossed galaxy far, far away."
--William Shakespeare

I will say right away that fans of Star Wars will likely enjoy this new book. Shakespeare was known for writing plays that were epic in scope. Just look at some of his historical plays. Now imagine if he had written the Star Wars: a New Hope story. That story is certainly epic and one that has all the elements worthy of a Shakespeare play. Well, Ian Doescher imagined just that, and we get this delightfully fun book inspired by the great bard.  This is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas' epic story. As I understand it, sequels are coming up, so if you enjoy this one, you will want to seek the others out. I know I will. 

The book is written in iambic pentameter. This is not your high school Shakespeare however. This was an excellent reading experience for me. The author in essence has channeled the great bard to envision the Star Wars epic in a new light. The humor, the asides, the great monologues, and other elements we love in Shakespeare's classic plays are here as well, and they bring the story to life in a fun way. For example, I had a hoot reading R2-D2's asides; I had no idea the plucky droid had so much to say. 

I wish I had this book handy when I used to teach Shakespeare as a high school teacher. I think it could add a new appreciation of Shakespeare's craft as well as show how it can be brought to modern audiences. I think it can also add to conversations on how the bard's work is adapted in modern times in places like films. Plus, I would say that instead of Romeo and Juliet, which to be honest is old and tired for 9th graders, teens could read this. Doescher's adaptation certainly hits all the right spots, and the Star Wars tale is certainly more exciting. 

This book is more than just an adaptation. It pays careful attention to language, structure, details, and the result is a good, entertaining work. In addition, the book features 20 scratchboard illustrations that add to the feel of the play. They do enhance the text, adding to the feel of the play as performance. This is one I am happy to add to my personal collection, and it is one I will happily recommend to friends and readers out there. 

I am giving it a 5 out of 5 stars. 

Want to borrow it from a library? Find a library near you in WorldCat.
Want to buy it? Link to the publisher here.

Want a preview? There is a book trailer.

The disclosure note where I am supposed to tell you, so The Man is appeased, that I got this book to review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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