The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand ★★★☆☆

Reading for A Very Merry Readathon

I am a huge fan of a Christmas Carol, so when I found out there was a story that was inspired (perhaps even set in that universe) by it, I knew I had to read it. I don’t know much more about it going in, but I am psyched! I really hope I like this. The concept surely peeked my interest. I’ll admit, what I’ve heard has me worried. It is a YA book and someone mentioned a love story, and I’ll be frank. A Christmas Carol is not a love story. I don’t see that working. So we will see.

Update 12/15/19 (1:30 AM, ~38% progress)

I’m feeling all sorts of ways about this one. I am having a lot of fun; I won’t lie about that. However, I don’t like a lot about this book. Let’s start with what I do like. It begins recounting the tale of a Christmas Carol and replaces Scrooge with a young self absorbed teen. That is a delightful twist on the original tale. I also just love the general Christmas Carol theme of it all. My problem is with the characters, the writing, and perhaps the plot (too soon to say for sure). The premise is Holly is scrooge. She doesn’t listen, so she is forced to work with Project Scrooge to help save souls. Fast forward five years, and Holly hasn’t changed one bit. I get she won’t age. I get she is a scrooge for a reason, but for christ’s sake, she’s five years older and should be five years more mature.

It is little things like that which Hand tries to have to give an artificial weight to Holly’s story, but she fails to take it to the logical extreme. She wants a suffering 17 year old girl. That girl will not stay 17. Now she is falling for some hot guy, mostly just because he is hot. It seems so painfully obvious that this will be her redemption, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Lets address a few creepy things about all this. Holly is 17 + 5 years of age. That could be a teacher fresh out of college. Now, introduce that 22-23 year old to a 17 year old. It could be worse. Now introduce Holly’s position in project scrooge, which, without giving too much details, gives her a position of power and knowledge over this boy. That makes this little love duo seriously problematic.

Now, I don’t see this getting above a three star simply because of the issues I’ve mentioned. That said, it is still a lot of fun, and sometimes it can even be fun to hate something too. The real trick will be deciding how much that fun is worth when it comes time to rate this. For now, I’m heading back in!

Finished 12/15/19 4:00 AM

That was fun. I can’t say it was great, but I enjoyed it well enough. There is just so much about this that made me cringe. Principle among this is the idea that love plays a pivotal role in redemption. It is true that Scrooge has to gain a love for his fellow humans, but this story takes it to next level and makes romantic love interest central to the story. That is not the crucial component of Scrooges turning point. It is a combination of things. I am also frustrated by our characters. This is a story about first world problems. We are meant to care about these characters are the most shallow and self involved people around. Holly’s redemption stems from her relationship with the scrooge she is trying to save, but the most profound growth we really observe is one of lust.

Hand tries to paint a picture of an improving person, but really, all she was doing was putting her character in a series of ever more selfish scenarios. Finally when she gets to the breaking point, that one action is somehow enough to save her. Honestly, this story makes me question what it is I liked about the original. It lacks the soul of the original story and bends a little too religious for my taste. I cringed so hard when I found out our scrooge was an atheist because he hated god for killing his father. That is so cliche. Sure, there are references to god in the original, but it isn’t a christian story. It is about caring about more than your self. Holly may reach that point, but it isn’t really earned. What’s more, the attempts Hand makes to do so focus on all the wrong reasons.

I’m conflicted on how to rate this. It does so much wrong, but it kept me interested, even at 4 AM. For now, I am going to land on 3/5 stars; I’d only go so low as the high 2’s anyway.

Update: I provide a larger comparison to A Christmas Carol in my post discussing my reread of it.

3 Replies to “The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand ★★★☆☆”

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