Tuesday 13 January 2015

Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan

Marly's Ghost
Marly was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatsoever about that. I had been there. When she went off the treatments, she decided she wanted to die at home, and she wanted me to be there with her family. So I sat, and I waited, and I was destroyed.
Published by Electric Monkey in January 2015
Pages – 192
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.
I can’t say I’ve read a lot of Charles Dickens books, but I’ve definitely read A Christmas Carol on more than one occasion. And like the rest of the world, many a Christmas Eve, has been sent with my box of chocolates and glass of wine, watching one of the endless film versions. So I was quite excited about reading this remix of the story with an unusual Valentine’s twist.
For the first part of the book, I loved it. I honestly couldn’t read it quickly enough. I loved Ben and his all consuming grief. If you have ever loved and lost someone, you can completely understand how he feels. Cutting himself off from the rest of the world, in order to be alone with his memories and creating a wall around himself to keep other people’s feelings at bay is one of the stages of grief. However Ben is struggling to move on from that.
This book started to go wrong for me when Marly’s ghost appeared. Up until that point, I thought the language and story had taken on a modern feel, giving this story a fresh image. Yet as soon as Marly arrived, the language changed. Suddenly Ben and Marly stopped talking like they were teenagers, instead they stepped back into Dickensian times using words that I personally have never ever heard muttered from a teenager’s mouth.  I understand that the author wanted to create a remix novel and that he wanted to keep as much as possible to the original tone of the book, and to be honest, I felt that was there through out the story. However, the first few chapters had a real David Levithan feel which I was hoping would be continued all the way through the book. Instead it felt like very little of the story was altered from then on. Don’t get me wrong, David Levithan achieved what he set out to do, I would have just preferred it to have more of his own voice through out the story and not just at the beginning.
So if you are longing for a story that doesn’t really wander far from the original but set in modern times and at a different time of year then this will suit you. Even though, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I would liked, I will still be exploring more of David Levithan’s books in the future.

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