Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen

Title: The Lucky Ones  (Bright Young Things trilogy #3)
Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads :

**Warning: kind of spoiler-ish if you haven't read the first 2 novels in this trilogy.**

In 1929, the Bright Young Things escape Manhattan's heat for the lush lawns and sparkling bays of White Cove, looking for leisure, love, and luck.

New York City's latest It Girl, Cordelia Grey, is flying high with celebrity pilot Max Darby. But Max is a private person with a reputation to uphold—and a secret to hide. A public romance with a bootlegger's daughter could cost him more than just his good name. . . .

Aspiring triple threat Letty Larkspur has finally gotten her big break, but will her talent—and special bond with the married silver-screen star Valentine O'Dell—make her a target in the cutthroat world of Hollywood? Perhaps the ingenue knows how to play the leading lady after all.

Newly married to her longtime sweetheart, socialite Astrid Donal finds herself spending more time with one of her husband's henchmen than with him. With so many secrets between man and wife, is the honeymoon already coming to an end?

As summer reaches its hottest peak, these sun-kissed girls will find out if their luck can last . . . or if dark surprises are on the horizon.

From the  New York Times  bestselling author of  The Luxe  comes the riveting conclusion to the one summer these Bright Young Things will never forget.

My Review:

The Lucky Ones is the final installment in Godbersen's Bright Young Things trilogy, which tells the story of three teenage socialites in New York City at the height of Prohibition (1929).  I became interested in her novels when The Luxe came out a few years back--the first in a series of four historical fiction YA novels that take place in NYC in 1899.  That series is AWESOME (definitely check it out first, if you can!), and led the way for me to jump into this new YA historical fiction series in 2011.

To recap (since I read Bright Young Things and Beautiful Days before this blog began)--while I was not entirely impressed with Bright Young Things (too predictable, lacked character development), the action and detail improved immensely in Beautiful Days.  The ending left me very excited to see what would come next for the three protagonists: Astrid (the bootlegger's girl), Cordelia (the bootlegger's sister), and Letty (their friend and aspiring starlet).

Even so, this book got off to a bit of a slow start for me.  Events from the last two books were being recapped a lot, and I felt that I was in a holding pattern, waiting for something significant to happen.  But around midway through the book, things picked up, and I was happy to encounter some twists that I didn't see coming.  That energy kept up through the ending--but after a while, I felt that Godbersen got a little taken away.  The movement of the plot picked up so much, that I started to become skeptical that the series could completely end with only 50, then 40, then 20 pages to go.  I was worried that the conclusion would feel rushed or unsatisfactory as a result.

In the end, that both was and wasn't the case.  Some details were very rushed.  Several plot changes (Astrid's new relationship, for one) popped up quickly and without enough embellishment for me to find them believable.  Plus, I thought it was awfully convenient that Letty's love interest just happened to cut things off with his fiancee at the perfect time...and that Billie's friend just happened to run into Astrid and her significant other during the epilogue.  There were a few too many coincidences set up like this to make the ending tie up, and it felt messy.  I wish Godbersen had taken the care to work through these details and bring things together in a more natural way.

However, despite that, I was happy with the overall conclusion.  Each of the girls finds an ending that is somewhat appropriate to their situation, with a couple of questions left open here and there.  This isn't an ending where you want every question answered, but you do want to have some idea of where the girls end up, since you've gotten invested in them over the course of the novels.  Godbersen does a good job striking that balance.

As for the characters themselves--I have to say that, of the three, I LOVE Cordelia the most.  She is level-headed, whip-smart, and can hold her own with the boys.  Letty, I like her, but she's just SO naive sometimes that it becomes a bit maddening.  And Astrid has got to be the most empty-headed 17-year-old around.  Don't get me wrong, she's entertaining to watch, and her carelessness is appropriate to her pampered-socialite lifestyle, but you just want to smack her sometimes.  At one point, she's in the midst of a gunfight and worried that she will lose her tiara.  HER FREAKING TIARA.  Girlfriend lost my sympathies right about then, I must admit.

Overall--this final installment of the trilogy had its rocky parts, but I still had a smile on my face at the end.  The series itself is fun and fast-moving, and peppered with interesting historical details.  A nice change from your average modern-day YA novels.  I'd still suggest reading The Luxe first (definitely the superior of the two series), but if you need more of a historical fiction fix after that, try out Bright Young Things.


  1. I have been meaning to read this series, but you threw in one of the words that make me recoil from a book: Predictable. But I do love selfish women and the 1920's so do you think it's worth a read?

  2. Spoiler-ish or not, loved the review! I read MOST of book 1 (I received one of those teaser samplers they send out sometimes...) but haven't gotten a chance to sink my teeth into the whole book, let alone the rest of the series. DEFINITELY on my reading wish list...and you've got to love the covers on these as well! Thanks for sharing...and happy reading.

  3. @Henry Circle, I do think it's worth a read. The only one that felt a bit predictable was the first--once you're into the second and third books, I didn't feel that way anymore, and the plot movement sped up quite a bit. If you love the 1920's, it's a great choice.

    @Gina, YES! Godbersen has amazing covers for all of her books! I could stare at them all day.

  4. You are amazing! When (if) I'm sleeping through the night again, I'll definitely be referencing your recommendations! I can't wait to not nod off halfway through the first page of a book. :)


  5. I hope you get the chance soon Allison! :) And for the record, I've had my fair share of "oh man I should NOT have stayed up that late reading last night" when the little dude decides he doesn't want to sleep. Haha.

  6. I JUST finished reading the book.
    That epilogue though man, like what?!
    I really didn't like it! I felt that it was so random and out of the blue, not fitting in with the rest of the story.
    Ugh, disappointed.

    1. Yeah, as a whole I still enjoyed the series, but I agree that the epilogue and all the coincedences at the end were a bit much.

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