Marly’s Ghost is what David Levithan calls a ‘remix’ of Charles’ Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’, except at Valentine’s Day instead of Christmas. The basic premise is that Ben’s girlfriend Marly died and now he can’t connect to the celebrations and feels he’ll never love again. So Marly’s ghost visits him in the middle of the night, and tells him he’ll be visited by three ghosts. Can you guess who? That’s right! The ghosts of Valentine’s Past, Present and Future.
In the end, I’m not sure whether I should’ve read this at Christmas or closer to Valentine’s day? The whole tone was…odd. It had Christmassy vibes with the morals and the dark cold nights. But the focus on romance made it somewhat Valentine’s-ish? The Ghost of Valentine’s Past showed Ben his relationship with Marly – which is where you learn about Marly’s illness and their shared history. But the Present and Future ghosts focus on Tiny and Tim (see what he did there). Tiny is a character from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a book that I have never read and never intend to. So, the significance and any emotional attachment readers of Tiny’s other adventures may have, went completely over my head!
To make the story feel even more like a remix there are some old style illustrations similar to the original ones from the Dickens books! But the story is so well known, nothing was really a surprise, even with the Valentine’s spin. I appreciated what it was trying to do, but the actual story I felt was a bit lacklustre.
So, if you’re a fan of Levithan’s works then it’s up to you whether you want to give it a miss or not! My two cents is that it’s not the best of his works, but fi you like Tiny, give it a go!
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