It’s time for another First Impression! This week, we have an excerpt provided by the lovely people over at BookishFirst for THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS. (Follow the link here if you’d like to read for yourself!) THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS releases October 1st, 2019 from Tor Teen.
The blurb for THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS pitches the story as “WESTWORLD meets THE HANDMAID’S TALE,” but if you’re looking for a bookish comparison, I’d say this is in the vein of GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE. In this world, girls who are poor, broken, and with nowhere left to turn are frequently taken in at “welcome houses” (aka brothels) and turned into Good Luck Girls when they become sixteen. It’s a pampered life, but one with no escape and no choice. Aster has been an official Good Luck Girl for a year, and now it’s her sister’s turn to “graduate” from a daybreak girl to sundown girl. But on Clementine’s first night of work, an accident leaves a client dead and Aster, Clementine, and a few other girls decide to stage an escape rather than face the wrath of the house.
I have to admit, my overall first impression of THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS was a little shaky. It started out strong. The prologue will instantly grab you, tantalizing while shying just short of being explicit. On a surface level, I liked the little peeks I was getting at the world and the characters, with futuristic technology (like tattoos that change and “grow” over time) mixed with a Western flair. Aster is clearly the star of the ensemble, and her fierce protectiveness will remind you of Katniss from THE HUNGER GAMES. The other characters are less fleshed out, but there’s plenty of room for them to go grow later in the book.
Then I came to a few pages that attempted to establish the world in which this story takes place. And suddenly, I became a lot more confused. There’s people with shadows and people without shadows, and not having a shadow was punishment for fighting the Empire (or was it punishment for fighting FOR the Empire…) but now it’s hereditary and not having a shadow makes you a second-class citizen and also ghosts are real. I think. Don’t ask me who was fighting against the Empire. I honestly don’t know.
It remains to be seen how much the world itself is going to matter to the overall story, but I came away from those pages so baffled that I’m a tad worried. It feels like a book that doesn’t know what it is – the book jacket promises WESTWORLD I think more for the ambiance than the story similarities, especially as it goes on to say that the book is a fantasy adventure. I don’t mind when fantasy and sci-fi exist side-by-side, but in this instance, the world feels a bit muddled. THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS could end up sticking the landing, especially if it delivers some amazing characters, but right now it has a lot to prove.