Review by: Nora K.

Get your copy of Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed here!

*No spoilers

Disclaimer: There is quite a bit of swearing in Hag-Seed, Shakespeare style and contemporary

“Palm trees and cactuses have been cut from paper, using kids’ safety scissors. The plastic rowboat and the sailing ship have been defaced, drenched in water, sailed on the shower-curtain sea.”

I have not read Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but Atwood made the play easy to understand and you don’t need any previous knowledge to read this book! Hag-seed is a gripping, hilarious, and feel-good novel. It is bizarre in a delightful way, and it totally cracked me up to picture the scenes being enacted such as “Pericles… staged with spaceships and extraterrestrials instead of sailing ships and foreign countries…”

I wholeheartedly fell in love with the characters. We have our witty Felix as the main character who certainly has a unique and creative vision. This is explained early on in the book with some entertaining details about his previous plays. His eccentric mannerisms were endearing even as he made some morally questionable decisions, but they added to his mischievous gusto! In his quest for revenge and his simultaneous desire to sulk, I found a complex three-dimensional character. His grief and emotional trauma about his dead daughter, Miranda, drives him to interesting decisions such as living as a hermit for nine years and teaching theater at a prison. It’s important to note that Felix had exactly no teaching experience under his belt prior to the prison. 

I had a blast reading this book and I rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to fellow high school students and maybe 7th/8th graders. The profanity might be a bit much for 7th/8th graders, but I’d say it serves a deeper, more educational purpose. I have compiled a list of why this book is wonderful to convince those still dubious to read this book…

1. Crazy old man teaches theater at a prison while trying to get revenge (best plot ever)

2. Anne-Marie-a bada** female character that I adore

3. There were parts that were quite profound and made me question things like: at what point do we forgive and what does it mean to truly hate?

4. Rap scenes. Pretty darn cool.

5. Explains original “The Tempest” very well and gently guides you through the play

6. There is a list of 17th century swear words 

7. Fantastic prose

Lastly, I shall leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the novel: “Is extreme goodness always weak? Can a person be good only in the absence of power? The Tempest asks us these questions. There is of course another kind of strength, which is the strength of goodness to resist evil; a strength that Shakespeare’s audience would have understood well. But that kind of strength is not much on display in The Tempest.” -Prisoner Bent Pencil (Margaret Atwood)