Book Review,  Reviews

Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan

“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.” 

Its been four months since Ben’s girlfriend Marly died. Four long, hard months filled with grief, sadness and loneliness. He cannot get her off his mind and has retreated from his friends. With Valentine’s Day approaching Ben feels more alone and miserable than ever, and he isn’t afraid to share that misery. He is ignoring his friends, telling a newly loved up couple that they are doomed to fail and scoffing at any paper hearts he sees. Then one night, his beloved Marly returns as a ghost, and brings with her the promise of a visit from three spirits who will let him see the error of his ways. 


A retelling of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with a Valentine’s Day twist, Marly’s Ghost is a brilliant way to reinstate today’s teenagers with the fiction of the past. The book careful adapts Dickens’ story to a modern day setting where the problem is the main character has forgotten what it is like to love, and can only see loss and sadness.

David Levithan is a genius and we all know this. That is why I was expecting this to be great. It wasn’t as great as I expected but honestly I think that could be because it was something he was commissioned to do, rather than chose to do himself. This doesn’t make it in anyway a bad book or any less valid because it wasn’t his original idea, he was asked to do a retelling of A Christmas Carol and thats what he did, and I think he did it well. It was sad but no sadder than the original (If you’ve read it, not many people have!) and I thought it captured the same feelings as the original. This book address the idea of coping with the loss of a loved one and how it can honestly feel like the end of the world. I really thought that the best bit was with the ghost of future because it really made it clear what Ben could led himself into and I thought it was so sad to see the reactions of the people around him.

The character Ben wasn’t a nice character but he wasn’t meant to be. He was shrouded in so much grief that he didn’t really have much of a personality as such, all you knew was from the little bits Fred, his best friend, mentioned when Ben was with the ‘present’ ghost. I really liked the look of Fred and I liked how much Ben opened up towards the end of the book, it was like he was a whole new person and you could see the person he would have been with Marley.

The book is quite predictable because it follows the same path as A Christmas Carol, so if you’ve read that or watched the many film adaptations you will see the similarities. I enjoyed it though, it was a decent retelling and had some brilliant illustrations that I think captured the books events but also captured the feeling of the original story well too.

I read this book in my Christmas break and thought it was a perfect time of year to read it. When its still close to Christmas but also getting closer to Valentines Day, it seems like the two ideas of the story (both the original and the remix) are captured perfectly. I would definitely recommend it to any Levithan fans even if its not his strongest book.

Marly’s Ghost was published on January 8th by Electric Monkey Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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