It’s kind of difficult to summarize this book, because it’s not just one story. It’s dozens of stories, and you pick which one you want to read. I used to be addicted to Choose Your Own Adventure books… no, wait, I still am. For those poor unfortunate souls who have never heard of them before, they’re books where after a page of text you are presented with a choice: if you want to do this thing go to this page, if you want to do that other thing go to this other page. Classic adventure books are a bit limited in their scope (do you want to reach your goal by walking through a forest or by following the river? do you whack the goblin in the head with a sword or a club?) but To Be or Not To Be has a way broader range.
The plot is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but depending on your choices anything can happen. Do you want to be Ophelia and create a flying machine to attack your enemies? Do you want to be the ghost of Hamlet’s father and hang out with ghost dinosaurs? Do you want to be Hamlet and fight off pirates like it happened in the original play’s deleted scene? You can! And much more! I am abusing exclamation marks to give you a sense of my excitement for this book!! It doesn’t take long to read though one of the stories and reach an end, but it takes a little longer to go through all of the possible paths.
Without spoiling much, my favourite bits were the optional Polonius sidequest, the book inside the book, doing the math to go back in time, and the omega drive. And also the art! Every ending page has a gorgeous illustration by a different artist and it was fun even just flipping through the book without having read it all, and wondering what I would have to do to end up with the ending that depicted a horse and a giant sun. My favourite character was definitely Ophelia, I liked that she was all awesome and science-y but she also died in stupid ways a lot. (Yeah, it’s a CYOA book, of course you die in stupid ways a lot.) Also, Ryan North is a funny writer so the book is hilarious.
I am constitutionally incapable of talking about this book any more without devolving into incoherent flailing, so YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK! IT’S REALLY GOOD! Bye.