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Friday, August 15, 2014

"The Luck Uglies: The Luck Uglies #1" by Paul Durham (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: The Luck Uglies is the first in a tween fantasy-adventure trilogy brimming with legends come to life, a charming wit, and a fantastic cast of characters-and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling.

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned.
Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

The first in a series, The Luck Uglies is an altogether irresistible cross of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar, and Chris Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, overflowing with adventure, secrets, friendship, and magic.

FORMAT: The Luck Uglies is the first novel in a proposed trilogy. It is a middle-grade/YA novel that is setup as a fantasy-adventure. It stands at 400 pages and was published April 29, 2014 by HarperCollins.

ANALYSIS: There are so many middle grade/YA novels being published that it is so hard to find the 'good ones' out there. That isn't to say that all books are bad, just some are more special than others. The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham is one of those special books – unique, fast-paced, and filled with fantasy-adventure.

It seems like everything in this book from the characters to the world building and pacing is just right. Durham knows how to really draw and develop a unique world for this story. It might appear to be just another 'ho hum' dreary depressing town, but Durham adds a few elements that makes it his own.

In addition to the small, unique twists in world building, Durham is successful in bringing the world to life. I could almost picture myself in the world and every time I picked the book up, I was magically transported back to this rather unique world created by Durham. It is the ability to transport readers to new worlds that truly makes a great book, and Luck Uglies has that element.

Another captivating feature of The Luck Uglies was the character development. Readers follow a young 11-year old girl named Rye throughout most of the story. Rye is full of personality and always has a surprise for the reader. I found Rye, her entire family, and friends enjoyable and extremely detailed. Each had their own unique personality and didn't come across as 'cookie cutter'.

The good guys weren't the only ones to be extremely detailed. There were several 'bad guys' including Bog Noblins, evil soldiers, and a selfish ruling Lord. Each of the bad guys were so developed that I have to admit I was rooting for them to lose. It will be interesting to see where the other novels go with some of these exact characters.

While The Luck Uglies is a wonderful novel and I loved every minute of it, it has a lot of parts that could be considered slower. There are a lot of things that need to be developed – the characters, the world, and the history between everyone. This could be considered a drawback, but I view it more as a great setup for the next two novels.

It should be noted that there is a lot going on in this little 400 page 'tween' novel. There are several storylines and characters that are all being developed at one point. I think the sheer amount of stuff going on could be overwhelming to some, but it really is a great way to introduce readers to the format used by so many fantasy-adventure novels.

Overall, I loved The Luck Uglies. I found myself wanting to read more as I got further and further into the story. I can't wait to see where the series goes and how the author takes this series. Truly a must read for anyone who loves quick, fun fantasy-adventure novels or who are looking for a good read that isn't super complex.


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