Reviews

Arc Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

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Summary

CW: Ableist Slurs

Expected Publication: October 24th 2017

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. . . .

Trenn Kopie

Review

“Every Scrooge deserves a second chance.”

Thank you for Edelweiss & Harper for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest Review!

What worked for me

🎄 I loved the idea of Project Scrooge + the retelling aspect! This was the reason I was interested in the book in the first place! A Christmas Carol is my favorite classic and I reread it every year, so naturally I was excited to see a YA retelling, as I’ve never seen one before. I have to say that this aspect as very well done, as we get a more modern touch on Scrooge’s story. Project Scrooge is a company, which each year selects a Scrooge, someone who is greedy, materialistic and mean to his fellow man. Then they try to identify the corresponding characters from A Christmas Carol in his real life and gather information on how the Scrooge became the way he was now. Like in the classic on Christmas Eve he gets a second chance and the entire team puts on a play for the Scrooge, showing them memories from the past, the happenings in the present and what lies ahead in the future. Of course there are the three Ghosts and they are former Scrooges – those from the project who did not change but instead failed to change their life and died. Holly is one of them and each has a different power. I loved the combination of science and magic on the project it made for a great mix! I loved how organized it was and how every team focused on a different character. It was quite a unique concept!

🎄 Seeing Holly as a protagonist was something different. I admit that she’s an Unlikable character and that her character growth is so so low and superficial until the end, but I kind of liked the idea of seeing a failed Scrooge. Even after 6 years she has not comprehended what went wrong the night the 3 spirits visited her and she thought they were just a scam and not real. Holly is feelings pretty miserable in her new life as the Ghost of Christmas Past and has not learned from all the years of watching Scrooges fail or win. She’s now leading a different life – no money, living in a small apartment and working for what she has. Even worse, she’s supposed to be dead and therefore does not have the luxury to go among the living to form bonds. However, even all those things have not changed her. Holly still is selfish, mean-spirited and not ready to see what went wrong in her life. I have to say that I disliked her greatly at times, but I guess that this was the point of it all.

🎄 I grew to love the secondary characters. I especially liked Steph, because she was so nerdy and sweet, always being in a good mood and really trying as Holly’s new assistant. Of course Holly was pretty mean to her, which got my blood boiling, because she just was Steph as naive and easy to fool. I honestly have to say that Holly definitely did not deserve her growing friendship with Steph for almost the entire book. Then there are Grant and Marty, two nerdy guys who are on Holly’s team and are not as bad as she makes them out to be. Then there’s kind Copperfield, the Ghost of Christmas Present and Blackpool, the Ghost of Christmas Future. I loved Blackpool, as he was pretty snarky, mysterious and always 100% done with everyone else. Last up is Boz, the leader of Project Scrooge who was pretty kind and loved Christmas. He’s the one that named his employees after Charles Dickens characters.

🎄 The ending was simply perfect! I was very unsure how things would end, but the ending was surprisingly good and satisfying. That’s something I hadn’t expected, as i thought we would end up in a completely different situation. However, I liked the real ending a lot better and it was the best one that I could have imagined. In the end, it really made everything come full circle and proved that the message of the book was not lost. It was beautiful to read and made me shed one (or several) tears.

Trenn Kopie

What didn’t work for me

🎄 Holly’s character Arc felt a bit superficial. I knew going in, that she hadn’t changed after her years of working for the company, but I barely saw any significant growth throughout the book, until the last 50-100 pages. Of course the instances of change were there, but they were too small, too insignificant, they didn’t really have an impact on Holly, so she was pretty much the same afterwards. Same attitude, same actions, with only very slight alterations, which wasn’t enough to satisfy me. The end did a great job with her growth, but there simply wasn’t enough leading up to this, so even that felt a bit too sudden after everything that had come before.

🎄 The romance was pretty much insta love. It did take up a significant amount of the book, which is why I didn’t get why it was so underdeveloped. Holly immediately wanted to meet Ethan, the second she saw he was the new Scrooge and hot. That was the only reason, because he was the hottest guy around which already had me rolling my eyes. Even worse, when she goes against the rules to meet him, they immediately connect despite having not much in common. Here’s where the dash of “She’s not like other girls come in”, because Ethan sees Holly as mysterious and immediatly pins after her, despite never having had a relationship longer than a week. In the following months they continue to connect, even though they their interactions are pretty flat, hollow and they both lie to the other. I just couldn’t dig their relationship at all, especially since Ethan was a Scrooge aka mean boy. It was basically mean  boy + mean girl. Holly also ignored how horrible she knew he was & he was so different only with her … which just didn’t make sense to me.

🎄 There are so many ableist slurs. Especially in the beginning the amount of ableist slurs is literally exploding on you, so be aware of that going in! Needless to say I wasn’t a fan of that as it felt unnecessary to throw them in, when the author could’ve chosen to use different words.

IN CONCLUSION: The Afterlife of Holly Chase was a fantastic retelling of A Christmas Carol and is great for fans of the classic and lovers of Christmas. However, it contains lots of ableist slurs and has a insta love as well as a bit superficial character arc at first.

Talk Kopie

Do you like A Christmas Carol? What do you think of retellings in general? 🎄

One thought on “Arc Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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