Charlotte Nicole Davis’ debut the Good Luck Girls is one of the most unique books out this year. It addresses an incredibly heavy contemporary theme not addressed in YA- human trafficking, in a fantasy setting. Whereas Spin the Dawn is on the younger side of the YA spectrum, Good Luck Girls would be an example of being the exact opposite side of that spectrum.
There isn’t time for adjustment for the brutality of depicting rape, drugs, being a sex slave and mind control. In the opening 10% of the book it is all right there in stunning clarity. Opening with Clementine’s first night being forced into sexual servitude she is offered a drug to detach from being raped (which she doesn’t take at the last-minute advice of her older sister, Aster) and then murders him by clunking him on the head.
When she stumbles downstairs in a daze, Aster finds her first and figures out what happens. Soon it is Tansy, Mallow and the very unwanted mean-girl Violet that find Aster and Clementine with the dead body and it is all in and all out to try and escape. Aster knows that if she doesn’t get Clementine out of there she will be killed. They all know this is their only chance to escape.
And so, they hatch a plan. The action never stops from there as they make their way north to find what Violet refers to as Lady Ghost- who she was told from her mom, could remove their “favors.” Favors were magical tattoos on their necks of flowers that grew until they fully blossomed at sixteen and marked them as sex slaves (and I’m going to keep using THAT term to drive home the brutality of it).
During this trip meet a lot of obstacles, dangers, betrayals, reveals and loss along the way. Those were a mix bag for me. Some of them had me at the edge of my seat, gut clenched or with my heart and my throat. Some seemed really convenient. Some I saw coming and some completely blindsided me.
The Good Luck Girls, understand, is not character driven and thus you don’t get the level of character development you would normally expect. If you go in with that expectation you will be let down. If you understand from the onset, or accept early on that it is plot driven, the fact that the characters don’t have deep development will not and does not take away from the impact of the story.
However, that doesn’t take away from some pieces that are left unexplored in the world around them. There are pieces of magic that are just touched on and/or magic that I had questions about or was intrigued by, but they were gone, and left just as quickly as they were introduced.
Part of this might be because of Zee and Clementine- and this has nothing to do with my issue with romance being all up in everything. I would rather more of Mallow and Tansey’s blossoming relationship than the microwaved two minutes and it is done relationship of Zee and Clementine.
Thank You to Tor/Macmillan and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Because I was just like what the- when he was trying to tell Aster she should trust him because how could she possibly not understand how he would never hurt Clementine just like she would never hurt her? Uh. dude? Maybe it is because it has been two days and not SIXTEEN FREAKING YEARS?
However, those are truly my only two gripes with The Good Luck Girls. The ending wrapped up things really well. In fact, except for one open ended- and the most heart breaking of scenes? I’m not sure how a sequel of this comes about. I can see what a TV show would call a spin-off. But not exactly a sequel. And I would love to follow that spin-off.
Lastly, and this is just a theory on my part. I could be completely reading into things too much. But if you look at The Good Luck Girls on the whole? There is something to be said about symbolism for the Underground Railroad. I can’t go into the details of how I came up with this idea. Many of those details are right towards the end.
When I grasped hold of that symbolism, whether it was intentional, or just something I picked up on? It blew me right off my feet. It was beautiful and poignant to me. I will be watching reviews and interviews with Davis as the book has been out longer to see if anyone else picks up on it. Or if it is discussed at all.
The Good Luck Girls is a daring debut that holds nothing back. Every time it approaches the brutalities of the world these brave girls live in and what they suffer through, it dishes out the truth. Nothing is candy coated. Nothing is glossed over.
With something such as human trafficking and sex slaves, which isn’t covered in YA but very sparsely? It is essential that when it is tackled that you get the raw reality. And Davis does just that.
Good Luck Girls Synopsis
Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.
Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst
THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS
The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.
When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.
It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.
Praise for THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS:
“Don’t underestimate the girls in the Arkettan welcome houses because you might just lose your life. Davis’ The Good Luck Girls is a dust-filled, bloody fairytale set in a menacing world haunted with the reminder―the price of freedom is high, but it’s worth fighting for at all costs. Rise up, teen readers!” ―Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles
“This dystopian debut is deeply connected to today’s social issues, and readers will feel that impact.” ―Booklist
About Charlotte Nicole Davis
Charlotte Nicole Davis is the author of The Good Luck Girls, a young adult fantasy novel releasing in Fall 2019 with Tor Teen. A graduate of The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Charlotte loves comic book movies and books with maps in the front. She currently lives in Brooklyn with a cat with a crooked tail.
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