My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ARC kindly provided by HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review.
‘The Afterlife of Holly Chase’ was a surprisingly interesting read the further I read. It was one of those novels that grows on you… Slowly, surely, with steady sneakiness. Perhaps what surprised me was that this novel had everything to do with my previous English studies into Charles Dickens. Cynthia Hand crafted a beautiful novel adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel ‘A Christmas Carol’. Every character within had some aspects of a character within the classic novel, but more importantly it was integrated seamlessly. Even though it was a bildungsroman, I never felt as though I hated Holly and that is perhaps most important for me as a reader. (All those literary theories which involve the writer creating a character whom the reader may/will definitely dislike in order to create authenticity or some in depth psychological analysis can stop talking. I am simple reader: I must like my characters to engage. At least ONE of them. That’s all I ask.) She was perhaps the most dry and ordinary at the beginning and I will honestly confess that one of the reasons I kept reading was because:
1. I wanted to see what would happen of the romance that was constantly alluded to between Holly and one other character that shall not be named.
2. I felt a novel adaptation of Charles Dickens targeted towards a young-adult audience was overdue, especially of ‘A Christmas Carol’. And even though I semi-disliked Dickens’ other novel ‘Great Expectations’, I wanted an adaptation to change my mind about his other texts.
3. I could criticize the effectiveness of the adaptation since I already knew the context provided by the constant intertextuality between the two novels.
*Clears throat* so here is what I found:
• Character development was AMAZING! (Imagine me singing this part opera style.) There were so many nuances to Holly and the myriad of secondary characters. Ethan was an absolute gem. Seriously felt like I fell in love with him alongside Holly. 😉 Holly was intriguing as soon as the plot really got going and I always felt like I wanted to keep reading after that. I wanted her to be happy and definitely became overly invested in her by the end. Yes, when that ending came, my eyes leaked water and my nose needed a tissue. Oh and when that REAL ending came… My heart could not withstand it. I was in love with the novel.
• In terms of plot, I enjoyed the way it both explored the poor attitude and character many of us explore towards the end of the year, especially during Christmas, yet engaged a contemporary audience. It gave those bursts of humour, romance, tension, love, grief, emotional attachment and underlying meaning which captures a critical audience that is adolescents.
• I think that unfinished ending was incredibly evil of the writer. I’ve read Cynthia Hand before, and her ‘Unearthly’ series was MAGNIFICENT. Those evil endings seem to be a writer’s habit of hers and I definitely love-hate them. And don’t even get me started on the age difference that emerges towards the ending of the novel! I was infuriated! Our Holly could be a cougar if she started any shenanigans! Readers, do not be afraid…read the novel before you get any…assumptions.
• I loved the main message of family and love. It seems like in today’s society where families fall apart faster than ever, this is an incredibly relevant message. But it’s not one that lectures you. Rather it’s like a small treasure the reader rediscovers on their own.
Congratulations to Cynthia Hand on the publication of a wonderful new novel! I hope to read more wonderful from her!
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!