The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Holiday, Young Adult
“‘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.’”
My second holiday read this month! I’ve been recommended this book by so many people, so I had pretty high expectations. Plus, I loved My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand.
On Christmas Eve five years ago, three ghosts visited Holly to show her how selfish and spoiled she had 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 had so much fun reading this that I finished it in a day! I love retellings (I mostly read Pride and Prejudice ones) and this one was such a unique twist on A Christmas Carol.
It’s a silly, light-hearted, and feel-good book. It’s exactly the kind of holiday fun you need when you’re hiding away inside from the snow. And I’ve been doing that a lot lately as a Canadian.
I love the fact that in this story, we get two unlikeable main characters. Holly is self-centered, obsessed with wealth and status, unbelievably cruel to those who she deems as “beneath” her, and marinates in the joy she feels when she humiliates people.
That being said, you can’t help but empathize with Holly and root for her as she goes about her days at Project Scrooge. She’s mean, but she’s downright hilarious. She’s sarcastic, self-deprecating, and has the funniest inner thoughts. I didn’t mind that she didn’t learn from her Scrooge experience. She’s still a bitch, and hell, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Arguably, I found Ethan, this year’s Scrooge, to be an even more compelling character. He’s charming, kind, and giving. But throughout the story, we’re exposed to his worst moments and it lead me to this interesting tug-of-war between “OMG, he’s amazing!” to “Oh no. He did that?”
It’s a silly book with how the whole Project Scrooge is set up with sneaking into Scrooges’ rooms and sifting through their memories. It’s kind of like Monsters Inc. in that way.
But this book really challenges the way you think about people as a whole. They’re not meant to be looked at as one thing. Motivations and past experiences are everything.
I didn’t even mind the romance that was set up in the book. I tend to be suspicious of YA romances because they typically make me want to roll my eyes. They’re always so cheesy with dramatic “We just can’t be together!” moments. But the budding romance between Holly and Ethan was adorable up until the end.
I loved reading this from cover to cover. It’s not hard to see the ending coming, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m actually even surprised Hand decided to end the book that way for the characters. Someone decided to go against the grain with a YA romance for once! I do appreciate that the ending was wrapped up nicely with a bow. Not every YA book has to be turned into a whole series!
I’d love to see this turned into a movie! Netflix, you in? Because I’m in!