Monday, March 1, 2010

Marly's Ghost by David Levithan

Title: Marly's Ghost
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Dial
Hardcover, 155 pages
Date Published: December 1, 2005

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
When Ben's girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over. What could possibly matter now when Marly is gone? So when Valentine's Day approaches, it makes sense that this day that was once so meaningful to Ben leaves him feeling bitter and hollow. But then Marly shows up-or at least her ghost does-along with three others spirits. Now Ben must take a painful journey through Valentine's Days past, present, and future, and what he discovers will change him forever.

Marly’s Ghost is a modern day retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; the only exception being that it takes place on Valentine’s Day instead of Christmas. Ben’s girlfriend Marly loses her life to cancer and Ben is distraught. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, Ben is so bitter about love that he tries to ruin the holiday for everyone else.

David Levithan was able to take a Christmas classic and put a nice twist on it. Marly’s Ghost follows A Christmas Carol very closely, but is still different enough to not feel like the same story. The story is described as a remix of A Christmas Carol, so the similarities in the story are expected. Not only that, but the ghosts are still there and Ben goes through much of the same experiences as Scrooge does. Because of this, the story is obviously predictable, but I was still able to enjoy it.

I was amazed at Levithan’s ability to take such well-known characters and modernize them. Most of the characters in A Christmas Carol pop up throughout Marly’s Ghost and while their roles may not be exactly the same, the fact that they are still there is awesome. One thing that did bother me was the fact that the story takes place in a modern world, but a lot of the language is very Victorian and refined. Teenagers in our world would not speak in the same context and with the same wordings as Scrooge did in the Dickens story.

Aside from some language problem, Marly’s Ghost is still a good story. It isn’t a lighthearted affair and much of the story focuses on Ben’s extreme bitterness and anger at Marly’s death. He is hurt and heartbroken and is in complete despair. Levithan captures this utter hopelessness beautifully. This isn’t a love story; it’s more of an exploration of the human spirit when faced with loss and despair. It’s a quick read that I’d recommend for fans of the Dickens classic.

Opening line: Marley was dead, to begin with.

Favorite lines – More of a passage, really: Her absence was all that mattered to me now, just as her presence had been all that mattered to me then. The people around me measured their days in hours or class periods or meals. I used to measure the days in glimpses of her face, touches from her hand, words sent back and forth through the air, all the things I’d tell her. I had never before experienced a love so elemental. And I never would again.


Dannie said...

This was a fine novel, I think. I really like the author to being with, so I may be biased, but I felt pretty much the same should read The Realm of Possibility.

Melissa said...

I can't say I've read this, but your review is very good...I will definitely look for this one and add it to my pile :)

Bere said...

I've never read this one but it sounds
really great. Your review was awesome.
I'll be looking out for this one. I love
the cover too =)

Melissa said...

This one is something I will have to look for. Thanks for the review!

ComaCalm said...

I hated this book, mainly for the language problems, amongst other things. I couldn't understand why an American teenager would talk like that!

ComaCalm's Review of Marly's Ghost

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