Taking a Christmas cruise with her two cousins from hell isn’t Holly’s idea of a good time. And when seasickness forces her into an open suite, she’s pepper-sprayed by a gorgeous guy called Nick. But when Holly makes her exit, she’s greeted by a horde of screaming teenage fans. Because Nick happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for one of the hottest bands in America. Suddenly rumours are swirling and Holly’s face is plastered all over the Internet. The band can’t risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend – just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be “fauxmantically” involved with a cute rock star? She’s about to find out…
Title: Decked with Holly
Author: Marni Bates
Publication date: September 25, 2012
After reading Awkward, I was a little apprehensive about Decked with Holly but I pretty much knew I was going to read and review it because the selection of middle school/YA holiday books that interest me is limited. I ended up checking this book out of the library and reading it before Halloween instead of waiting for the HoHoHo Readathon.
But I was totally fine with that because I liked it so much! It’s set in the same universe as Awkward but the Awkward characters are really only mentioned a few times. Decked with Holly is a lot funnier than Awkward was, and it doesn’t seem to be trying as hard either. There’s that first scene with the mall Santa that’s cringeworthy (in more ways than one), but after that, it gets much better. Holly and Nick’s first meeting in particular is a hilarious scene, and it sets the tone of their relationship for the rest of the book.
Holly is pretty much your average girl, with one exception: her parents are dead and she lives with her grandfather. He’s getting older, as grandfathers do, and Holly is very aware that she probably won’t have him around for as long as most people have their parents/parental figures. She mentions this a few times and each time it bothered me. It brought me down a little when all I wanted to be reading about was a happy, fun time on a cruise on the Mexican Riviera and then this reminder of reality kept intruding. I also felt like Holly should have spent more time with him on the cruise if she was so worried about their time together being limited. Instead she spent most of her time with Nick, which of course was necessary to promote their fauxmance to the paparazzi and the public. It would have been a little difficult to explain why this new couple, supposedly so-in-love, was spending a lot of time with her grandfather instead of alone. It’s kind of a no-win situation, but I just wanted more family time, okay?
Except for those cousins. Ugh, they are horrible. Allison and Claire are total mean girls (and their mother isn’t much better) who seem to live to make fun of Holly. They’re manipulative and they aren’t above blackmail to get what they want. Holly’s grandfather seems to miss most of their needling of her, but I was disappointed he didn’t shut down what he did hear. Clearly, their mother wasn’t going to do it and as the man who raised Holly since she was a baby, I expected more from him. Then again, even though he should have stepped in long ago, at this point Holly’s old enough to be standing up for herself and she doesn’t. Rounding out the family, there are some other cousins (Allison and Claire’s brothers) on the trip too, but they’re barely mentioned to the point where I’m not sure why they were even thrown into the story.
There’s not a lot of depth to the book. It’s mostly just a fun holiday romance with Holly and Nick going from one humorous situation to the next. It’s definitely not a serious book. Holly and Nick don’t really have serious conversations and they don’t get to do that much or go anywhere because they’re trapped on a cruise ship most of the time. It’s hard to explain, then, why I liked the book so much. Holly and Nick are just really likable and it’s so easy to root for them to get together for real.