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. . . .
Note this review is going to be pretty spoiler heavy because I’ve got issues with what occurred in this book-you really think you couldn’t screw up with A Christmas Carol (but you can apparently).
One of the things you learn to do very early on in law school is issue spot. Pretty much all your exams in law school are issue spotting. And for the most part, if you finish an exam in the three hours or so you’re given to finish it that’s not exactly a good thing.
You also use this skill on bar exams and in actual practice as well. So, it’s sort of hard to turn off when you know..it’s the weekend and you decide to chill for a bit to get away from your crazy clients. And you read a book and am like-hell, this could be a torts essay right here. Also, there’s some criminal law issues cross referencing it.
Yeah…not exactly a good thing for a book. Especially when said reader reviews books, but that’s how I felt when I was reading The After Life of Holly Chase.
Originally, when I was issue spotting this one I though-hey, it might be fun to write you know a legal style memo or what not over this book review. But guys, memos are long and when there are multiple torts involved like in this case it would probably be the length of a full length novel. Plus, it would be super boring with me citing case law or made up case law that you either wouldn’t be interested in or like she’s butchering the law for the sake of being mean to a book. But just if you’re interested Holly Chase and her father could probably charge Project Scrooge with kidnapping a minor as well as suing them for the following torts: false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, possible negligence issues. There’s probably lots of employment issues as well (it’s mentioned she’s being intentionally under paid). I could go on, of course, but I won’t.
And we’re not going to analysis them. Just know that based on this issue spotting, I thought that Project Scrooge was just as shitty as the person they were trying to reform (Holly Chase).
That’s right, Holly Chase is despicable. And honestly, I don’t see her growing that much throughout the course of the novel except that she finally gets rid of her bad dye job at the end of the novel.
So the general gist is that Holly was Scrooge one year and failed big time, because hey-emotional blackmail didn’t work for her.
Because at it’s core that’s what A Christmas Carol is. Emotional blackmail intended to scare a greedy old miser into reforming himself into a somewhat better man.
I actually enjoy the original Dickens work and watch two or so versions per year. Of course, one of these versions is the hilarious Blackadder version where there’s kind of a reversal effect, so I’m always looking for a good retelling (note, if you haven’t seen that version you need to watch it, it is available on Hulu). But here, I couldn’t help but think that Project Scrooge was filled with assholes.
I’m not joking.
What they do to Holly is pretty terrible. Yes, she is a terrible person, but the fact they let her live through this quasi purgatory/hell for five years and emotionally manipulate her is just wrong. In fact, all of the interactions in this book were pretty much set up and weren’t even really real to begin with.
On second thought maybe it’s not Holly I’m so mad at them about, but about how we the readers were duped into all of this.
At the end of the book there’s this twist that I absolutely hate. That all of this was more or less a version of the future and Holly goes back to her old life after pretty much committing suicide so this guy she falls in love won’t bite the dust.
First of all, not going to go into how wrong that scenario is BUT I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING HATE THE DREAM/ILLUSION TROPE.
I’ve always hated the trope ever since I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why Hand decided to go in this direction. It helped close a lot of the loose ends with this book, but at the same time it sort of failed quite epically. Any ship that was built up, was worthless. We didn’t get to see the payoff to any of them, since they didn’t really exist. And one of them just ended on an extremely awkward note.
It was almost as if the author wrote herself into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get that particular ship to work and didn’t even want to bother any further. Even though that ship was the reason the character changed.
It just made me as a reader mad because again no payoff for the ship that the author spent at least a good chunk of the book building. And you know what, until the end I really didn’t even care for the ship that much. That tells you how much all of this sucked.
The book is going to be adapted to a movie per the author’s website, and I can tell you if I didn’t like that ending in a book it’s going to be worse on the small screen.
I also didn’t feel right as a retelling. A good rule of thumb for A Christmas Carol retelling is the Scrooge. And God does Holly suck at it. Yes, she’s a self absorbed little twit, but while the Scrooge character of Dickens fame gradually changes throughout the course of his hauntings. Holly doesn’t change really, until the end of the book.
Yes, there are some romantic moments in the book and moments where she’s not totally being an a-hole, and where she occasionally treats her assistant like a normal person, but for the most part. Total a-hole.
I think her reformation was more or less when we got flashbacks about when her mother died, how she stalks her ex best friend who moved to NYC, and how she will go and sit and watch her dad’s newest movies at the movie theater.
But did I feel sorry for her, nope.
I can really see this book working as a TV movie though. It seems like it was written for that medium. If you like cheesy holiday stuff, you might like this. Just be aware that any emotional attachment towards any ship will be yanked from you at the end.
Overall Rating: B-