We have two days left of this year, so we decided to give you all one more holiday review. Our buddyread this month was The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. A retelling of A Christmas Carol seemed like the perfect choice for December.
As said before The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a retelling of the famous A Christmas Carol, but with a modern take to it. On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
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. . . .
Candyce: I actually really like this cover. It’s very simple, but definitely decorated for the holidays. The subtle details make it very interesting.
Isabelle: I love the cover! It’s quite detailed in its simplicity and I like the color scheme. It fits the story well.
Candyce: I love A Christmas Carol (especially the Muppet version, haha), so this story definitely interested me. Especially because we get to see what happens when a Scrooge doesn’t change their ways. We meet Holly who was a rather stuck up teenager with a rich father and basically had everything she wanted. Her stepmother kind of made her more arrogant by telling her how things should be, which wasn’t very kind at all. After she doesn’t change her ways, she’s the Ghost of Christmas past. She’s not really enjoying it very much and she’s not very happy. She works for project Scrooge and her boss Boz runs everything. This year seems a bit different though. Stephanie comes along and becomes her assistant and she knows a few of the fellow members of Project Scrooge won’t be coming back next year. This makes Holly wonder what is going on. The Scrooge this year is different as well. Ethan, a 17 year old boy, who seems a lot like Holly. She really relates to him in so many ways. This makes her break rules and risk her chance at working for Project Scrooge. But what will happen if someone finds out? I love that there is the whole idea that if you don’t change your ways, you have to work in your afterlife to help others get the chance to change their ways. The story started off a bit slow, but still very interesting. This was a fast and fun read, with moments that were pretty emotional as well. I loved the interaction between Holly and the members of Project Scrooge. Near the end I started to get where it was going, but I wasn’t completely sure. I was pleasantly surprised by the end. The author made some choices not many other authors do (I can’t explain in detail without spoiling the story, haha). Definitely a plottwist. The Afterlife of Holly Chase really fit well with this holiday season. I ended with the warm feeling I love around the holiday season.
Isabelle: I loved that this was a retelling of A Chrismas Carol and that it also mentions A Christmas Carol all the time. I must say I was a bit confused when I started the story, the first part is about Holly’s turn as Scrooge and I think those chapters could’ve been written a bit better of at least a bit clearer. I was quite happy when we switched to the time Holly was actually working for Project Scrooge. I really liked the whole concept of the story and loved reading about the ‘company’. Holly makes some stupid choices in my opinion and I got so annoyed with her haha. It did make for a great story about second chances and about changing your ways. I loved the message in the book as well. I never saw the ending coming and was quite surprised about the twists we got. I love being surprised by a book and love the direction Cynthia Hand took this book in. It was quite different than anything I would’ve imagined and that made it just perfect.
It was a super quick and fun read and perfect to read around Christmas. I would definitely recommend reading this one next December haha. You could obviously read it now but I would say; wait until next December and you will enjoy it much more.
“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.”
Candyce: I have to say Holly annoyed me in the beginning, haha. She really was the typical stuck up rich girl that not many people like. I tend to connect more to the geeky characters. As the story went on, I kind of understood somewhat why Holly was the way she was, but she still annoyed me a bit. I did like that during the story she started changing and opening up in ways she didn’t before. Ethan was basically the male version of Holly, but to me more of a character you can relate to. He didn’t have an easy childhood after a tragic event and didn’t see the influences his grandfather had on him. He tended to keep people at a distance, but Holly started to change those ways. The members of Project Scrooge were a fun bunch and even though Holly didn’t really interact with them more than she had to, they seem like a fun family. I would’ve liked to see more of them I have to say.
Isabelle: Holly is a very unlikeable character for the biggest part of the story. As Candyce said, you’ll come to understand what shaped Holly but she was still super bitchy and selfish when she didn’t need to. Obviously this worked really well for the story and there was a slow but steady development noticeable in Holly. Although she was quite annoying she was also interesting to read about. When you start to get to know Ethan he seems like a pretty decent guy for a Scrooge, I actually liked him quite a lot. Through memories you start to see that Ethan isn’t that great of a guy but also how he got that way. He didn’t get much room to improve himself but I didn’t really mind since the story was more about Holly anyway. I really liked Stephanie, she was a geeky and sweet character and had a big hand in Holly’s improvement. Like Candyce said the whole Project Scrooge crew felt like a big family and I enjoyed their dynamics. I would love another book or at least a novella with the P-S crew!
“Without stories, we’re all just lonely islands.”
This was definitely the perfect book to end the holiday season with. It had all of the elements for a fun Christmas read. Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase? What did you think?