Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: Marly's Ghost by David Levithan

Join Kat as she reads and reviews the works of David Levithan
from his debut novel to his National Book Award longlisted novel, Two Boys Kissing

  • Pages: 176
  • Genre: Adaptation/ Paranormal
  • Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2006

In Marly’s Ghost, David Levithan collaborates with illustrator and author Brian Selznick who is best known for his book The Invention of Hugo Cabaret. Together the authors remix the story and illustrations of  Charles Dickens’ classic novella, A Christmas Carol into a modern day Valentine's Day tale.

This novel is a little different from most Levithan novels because it is essentially a packaged novel.  In the back of the book Levithan discusses how this novel came about because he was approached by two Penguin editors to write a Valentine’s Day spin on A Christmas Carol. Once he had a theme down, he describes how he sat down with the text of the original and worked piece by piece to create Marly's Ghost. Because this novel sticks so close to the source material and borrows much of the language from it  has a different feel than Levithan's previous books. 

 Dicken's Christmas curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, is reimagined as Ben, an apathetic 16-year-old, who believes love is humbug since of the death of his girlfriend Marly, the replacement for Scrooge's dead business partner Jacob Marley.  Tiny Tim is also included in the new characters, and is now a freshman couple Tiny and Tim.

If you know the relative structure of A Christmas Carol you can pretty much guess the general plot structure of this novel. The night before Valentine's Day Ben is visited by the ghost of Marly followed by the spirits of Valentine's Day past, present and future

Like the original story, the book is really more of a novella than a full length novel. It's only about 160 pages, but once you count in the illustrations and large page margins it is probably shorter than that. 

This novel isn't really the typical Levithan novel, but it is interesting in that it gets back to Levithan's writing roots. In most of his appearances he discusses how he started writing by writing Valentine's Day stories for his friends, some of which are in his short story collection, How They Met. So, in a sense I think this could serve as an introduction to what some of Levithan's shorter form writing looks like

This story is great if you are looking to read more about classics revisited, but not top on  the list of  Levithan novels I would recommend. 

1 comment :

  1. Well, the cover grabbed me, and now I'm hooked by the idea of turning A Christmas Carol into something that aligns with Valentines day. Hmm . . . very intriguing. I haven't read any of his other stuff yet, but I'm writing this book into my list. Thanks Kat!


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