The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Posted December 21, 2018 by Lizzy in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

I’m plowing through all the reviews for the books I read as part of the TisTheSeasonAThon! I won’t be posting a review EVERY day after Christmas, I promise. But to me all the holiday-ish books need to be reviewed before then, soooo…here’s another one! Also I am FINALLY adding another read to my backlist checklist for this year…I’m already WAY over my 2018 release goal but I can’t seem to stop with the new releases.

The Afterlife of Holly ChaseThe Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24, 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 400
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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

I love the original A Christmas Carol, so I was super excited when I realized that this retelling was by Cynthia Hand, one of the lovely authors of My Lady Jane (which is AWESOME and if you haven’t read it what are you waiting on go now). If you haven’t read the original but have seen a movie adaptation, you’ll still “get it” for this book…if you haven’t read or seen it you might not enjoy it quite as much, but it’s all somewhat explained within this particular story.

When I started reading this, I was about 20% through when I whined on GR that the main character, Holly, was just soooo unlikeable. Well, she’s supposed to be a FAILED Scrooge – which means she was visited by the three ghosts of Christmas, and refused to head their warnings – so naturally she would be unlikable. I get that. But I just couldn’t get on board with her at all! I didn’t care that she’d been yanked from her life at an unbearable young age, I couldn’t care less about her dingy little apartment, and I really really REALLY hated how she treated the other people she worked with. Given that it was a Scrooge story though, I kept going. Also, yes – Holly has had to deal with the loss of her mother, which royally sucks no matter how rich and pampered you are. She didn’t deal well, because none of the adults in her life dealt well. It definitely contributed to her being the way that she is, BUT…we all have choices, and we can’t blame other people for the choices we make ourselves.

Ethan, this year’s chosen Scrooge of Project Scrooge, had me scratching my head. Because yes, while he’s cold and kind of jaded for a seventeen year old, he’s not…THAT…bad. I kept expecting him to do something truly despicable but it never really happened.

The modern twist on the Christmas Carol story was really fun and original. I loved it. It kept me reading even when Holly had me pulling my hair out. Also, her ex-best friend, Ro, kept me reading because I was so hopeful that somehow, someway, beyond the grave, they would reconcile.

“He said, ‘Without stories, we’re all just lonely islands.’…Stories let us see and hear and feel what someone else does,” she explained. “They build bridges to the other islands. That’s why stories are so important. They create true empathy.”

Yes. YES. This is why we read. This is why we read stories about people outside of our own little bubble, it’s why we read stories written by people who are different than us. We read to relate as well as escape. Ro, girl, we need to be friends.

I was not okay with the way Holly manipulated everything to suit her own feelings and desires up to the very end. I mean…had she not learned ANYTHING from death? Apparently not. She literally put her feelings and desires and emotions ahead of everyone and everything else. BUT THEN.

The entire trajectory of the story changes in the last few chapters. It was so unexpected and the ending was SO DAMN REFRESHING I could have cried. It was so, so much better than I was even hoping. It added a half star onto my rating for this book, because it dared to be different and it actually resolved so much.

4/4 stars, definitely recommend especially if you like the classic A Christmas Carol.

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