Author: Michelle Ray
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: March 2015
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
Michelle Ray has reimagined Shakespeare’s Macbeth and set it in Hollywood. Mac/Beth follows Beth DeAngelo and her boyfriend Garrett Mackenzie (“ship” named MacBeth), as they navigate their rise to fame and their own guilt.
Duncan King’s death was an accident. It was. I know everyone wants to blame me for it. Make me out to be some evil schemer, but that’s not how it was. I’m just like any other teenage girl. Except that I’m on TV. And my boyfriend is a movie star. Sure, we’re ambitious. Sure, we like to get our way. But that doesn’t mean we’re murderers. Well, not me anyway. I never meant for all those people to die. Especially not Duncan.
When considering a Macbeth re-imagining you have to take into account the main themes of the original – specifically the quest for power and the ambition of the main characters. Michelle Ray powerfully portrays Mac’s ambition, how easily negative emotions can be manipulated. A few well-chosen words to the right person can cause huge repercussions especially when they are open to interpretation. You only have to picture the witches prophecies to understand the impact of this.
Taking the quest for power from the violent physical battles in the historical setting (Macbeth was written in 1605 the year of the gunpowder plot) to the covert manipulation of gossip and media in a modern context, yet resulting in the same devastation.
Michelle Ray switches up the character traits within Mac/Beth, dislike of Duncan is a powerful connector at the start of the book. Whereas, the original Macbeth the death of Duncan is intentional the re-imagining features a violent accident. The way in which the death is dealt with however, does make you question the characters intent. Beth’s actions are in direct contradiction to everything we have learned about her so far.
The integration of original lines from Shakespeare reinforce the plot and themes of the original within the re-imagining.
The symbolism with the blood is ingeniously woven into the plot mirroring the original and reinforcing the aspects of the themes woven through the original.
I’ve got to be honest and say that while reading I was desperately connecting the plot to the themes within the original play, while not blatantly obvious within the narrative the themes provide a deeper understanding of the original and a great way for teens to connect with the characters. For me it was the theme of manipulation, coercion and the quest for power which in this case equates to fame that really stood out within the narrative.
Michelle Ray provides a fresh take on a classic while maintaining and clarifying the themes of the original. I am a huge fan especially when it’s going to help students connect with the classics.