Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan

Marly's GhostMarly’s Ghost by David Levithan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A generous 3 stars.

I didn’t know this was A Christmas Carol retelling when I picked it up (otherwise I would have quickly put it down – studying ACC for my GCSEs in-depth took away a lot of the joy from the story), I just remembered Levithan having a refreshingly different take on relationships from when I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written by the amazing human that is John Green). This book wasn’t refreshing however, it was cute but the fun ended there. After the ghost of Valentine’s Day ‘present’ the story car crashes into a cheese-fest.

Pros:
– The relationship between Tiny and Tim really warmed my heart and was the best part of the book by miles. There was a beautiful picture of affection in those characters and it was wonderful to imagine. It’s just a shame I can’t figure out how (other than the obvious name reference) they relate to the rest of the book.
– Ben, the protagonist, was a very relatable character and this gave the beginning of the book some much-needed depth.

Cons:
– Victorian dialogue in a book about contemporary teenagers. Oh dear.
I hated having Dickens’ references so crudely forced into present-day culture, it could have been far better if it was done with a bucket load more subtlety. Have you ever heard a teenager say the word ‘beseech’…?
– For a book with serious themes (death, loss, love, hope, depression plus others that I can’t mention without adding spoilers but trust me when I say they’re on the more mature end of YA fiction), this story was written in an incredibly simple, child-like style. I’m pretty confused at who the target audience is. The story is aimed at 14+ years old (by my humble estimation) but the text reads like it’s meant for older children (around 10 years old) rather than teens.
– After the second ghost, the rest of the book is so disjointed and cheesy that it makes for painful reading. It’s a downright shame because the majority of it until that point is building up to an inspiring and heart-warming story. It felt rushed and awkward in the last 40 or so pages and that broke the intention of the whole story (as explained in the author’s note at the end) for me.

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