The Gods of Good and Bad Luck descended onto Earth suddenly, and when they accidentally touched each other, it ended up creating a sort of ground zero, altering the fate of humanity. Now the unluckiest kids of Earth must team up to go on a doomed mission to fix everything. Let me tell you, Good Luck by Matthew Erman, Stefano Simeone, and Mike Fiorentino is a cracker of a book.
There is a lot of world-building and a lot of parallel interwoven threads. Ever since the incident, luck has become quantifiable. This has put Artemis and his teammates in a unique, paradoxical position. They have awful luck and cannot seem to catch a break. Theoretically, this also means they have nothing to lose by visiting the affected zone. That makes them perfect subjects for a secret government experiment, where they are trained to endure suffering through bad luck, so they can somehow fix this situation. Artemis’ introduction immediately endears him to the reader.
The other team members are equally interesting and memorable. I would’ve loved more time with the characters, learning their backstories and seeing more of their interpersonal dynamics. The first twist added to the story is that the team meets a fourth member who simply breezes his way through the mission in a single attempt. The plot moves at a breakneck pace after this, and there is a lot of ground it covers. In true dystopian young adult fiction fashion, there is a twist that reveals an authoritarian antagonist. The mission morphs and objectives change for our protagonists. The resolution that comes at the end is perfect and made me feel something, which speaks about how much the story made me care.
The creators throw a lot of world-building at you, and most of it pays off. I wish we delved more into the nature of the Gods or why this phenomenon started in the first place. I can definitely see a sequel for this, but I also appreciate it as is, and I don’t think it necessarily warrants one.
The dialogue and captions do a good job of saying profound things without being performative. The characters are doomed to failure and suffering, but they are hopeful and still manage to keep their humanity and friendship alive in a chaotic situation. There is a great deal of things the story says through its protagonists’ journey, but most of all, I admire the restraint shown in balancing it with good storytelling. On the whole, it packs a good balance of world-building, character development (my favorite character was Hilde Hilde), plot intricacies, and poignant moments.
I must absolutely mention the art since it is impossible not to make note of it. The artist has a very difficult task to pull off, depict concepts like luck and Gods, match that with artifacts from science fiction, blend that in with impossible-looking scenes and finally balance it with expressive and relatable characters. Boy, do they deliver on that. The art is extremely kinetic, punky, and full of detail. Static comic book pages look dynamic and made me feel like I was watching a live video game. The colors punch everything up and make you just want to see more.
Good Luck crams a lot in its first volume, and sometimes some things don’t feel like they pay off. For example, one of the unlucky kids keeps talking like they are in a video game, and you keep getting the feeling there is something to it, but there isn’t. The story tries to blend in fantasy and science fiction but rarely explains any internal logic or consistency for them either. Luck is such a great subject, and the ingredients are all in there to make for something deeper, but I feel the story shies away from it sometimes. There are also trace themes of how we turn everything into a weapon and how unfeeling humans can be, told through the lens of the experimenters who choose to use these kids. But the story stops shy of digging deeper there.
Good Luck is a splendid story for new readers, and I would, in fact, consider it one of the first books to suggest to someone new to the medium. On the whole, if you buy the premise and buckle up for the ride, it is a very enjoyable read. The art is spectacular, and there is some crisp writing. Good Luck is, at once, a full meal that also leaves you wanting more.