Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan
Everyone in the world knows the story of A Christmas Carol, even if the only experience you have with it is the Muppet’s version, so I don’t really need to tell you too much, only that this is a modern day take on a much loved classic, with a few differences, for instance, instead of a miserly old gent living in Victorian London being haunted by his old business partner and then being taken on a journey by a bunch of other spirits to learn the true meaning of Christmas, we have a grieving teenage boy living in modern day America who is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased girlfriend who visits him on the evening of Valentine’s Day to help him move on past their relationship and give him a few lessons in love and life.
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.
Its really not a secret that I love David Levithan, he’s involved with all of my favourite books and I actually debated buying this when I was trying to spend my Waterstones voucher recently and I only didn’t pick it up because I was already fearing a little for my bank balance, so I was hella happy to find it available on netgalley and even happier when I was approved for it!
One of the reasons why I love David Levithan is his absolutely beautiful writing style, like seriously, this guy could make homework sound like the most incredible thing in the known universe, which is a theme throughout every book he’s ever written, you want to fall in love in New York at Christmas? He’ll make you do that with Dash and Lily even if you have never been to New York, want to engulf yourself in a story narrated by the ghosts of AIDS victims? Well, whether or not that sounds appealing, reading Two Boys Kissing will trap you with it’s wonderfully, descriptive and imaginative prose and keep you there until well after the last page is turned. I mean, seriously, even The Lovers Dictionary, which is literally just him defining a bunch of words and telling a story with them in the same layout as an actual dictionary will massage your mind with it’s articulate and expressive descriptions. Whatever book of his I read, I relate to it completely, I am no longer a teenager, I am not a gay man, I am not living in New York, but regardless, reading a David Levithan book soothes my existential crisis, his words, they understand me Ok, I think you get the gist, reign in the fangirl, Leah, you’re supposed to be reviewing this book not flailing about the author. Basically, all you really need to know is that David Levithan is the kind of author that makes me want to sit down and cry next to the pile that is my ambition as a writer, because no matter how hard I try, I will never be as good as he is.
Anyway, all of the things that I love about David Levithan, were present in Marly’s Ghost, but even though it still had the touching moments and all the ingredients that make David Levithan so enjoyable, I was really underwhelmed by Marly’s Ghost and I think it was partly because it was a story I’d read hundreds of times before and partly because although the majority of the story was a modern day tale of love, lost and learning, there was a lot of random archaic language in there, especially in the scenes where the ghosts were talking to Ben and showing him the past, present and future. I just felt like a lot of that was a little unnecessary when there had been so much effort into modernising the rest of it. If you can look past the disjointed tone of the narration, then this is a great introduction to A Christmas Carol and to Charles Dickens in general. It’s a wonderful homage to a classic story and it looks pretty as hell so its a welcome addition to any bookshelf.
Basically, David Levithan is a writing god and ya’ll should read all the things!