Release Date: 8th January 2015
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Add it: Goodreads
A remix of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a Valentine’s twist
When Ben’s girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over and the prospect of Valentine’s day without her fills him with bitterness. But then Marly arrives – or at least, her ghost does – along with three other spirits. Now Ben must take a journey through Valentines past, present and future – and what he learns will change him forever.
Marly’s Ghost, as it says in the blurb, is a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Except it’s not about Christmas but about Valentines Day because quirkiness, I guess?
The story pretty much follows the format of A Christmas Carol, with the three ghosts visiting our main character, a really Scrooge-like teenage boy who is grumpy and sad because HIS GIRLFRIEND DIED FOUR MONTHS AGO. Seriously, he has this really kind of great relationship with his girlfriend Marly, clearly never having seen Marley & Me and therefore totally unaware of what happens to characters with that name, until she dies after a long battle with cancer. Understandably, Guy is very broken up by this but the book acts as though shutting yourself off isn’t a normal part of grief and that stopping people from grieving can be incredibly harmful. Seriously, every character in this book is like ‘hey guy, man it really sucks that yo girl died but how about you stop moping and ~live a little~’ I would’ve killed them all, lbr.
Like, grief can last for years. It’s dumb to expect that a person can put themselves back together after only a few months – anyone who has experienced loss will know that it takes a very long time to feel anything close to normal so it really made my eyes roll right up into the back of my head that Marly’s Ghost is ultimately about forcing a guy to speed through the stages of grief so that he can go back to living happily LIKE HIS GIRLFRIEND HADN’T DIED FOUR MONTHS AGO.
This is a terrible attempt at recreating the magic of A Christmas Carol; Marly’s Ghost aims for that perfect blend of sentiment and quirk and misses the mark by a huge margin. Definitely not what I expected from such a popular author known for his insight into teenagers, and definitely not from an author who so brilliantly captured human connections in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Read the original story instead and give this book a miss, in my opinion.