Sunday, March 24, 2024

With A Little Luck, by Marissa Meyer

Jude's idea of risk is rolling dice for the D&D campaigns for which he dungeon masters.  He knows that there is no way he'll ever realize his dreams in real life.  He'll always be a mediocre artist, an average student, and he'll never get the girl of his dreams, Maya.  But things seem to change for him when he stumbles across a beautiful twenty-side die on the turntable at his parents' record shop.  Suddenly, everything starts going right.

Defying the odds, he finds a rare signed record that everyone's overlooked, he wins a radio contest for two tickets to see a British hearthrob in concert, he finds missing homework, and he's rolling d20s perpetually.  With the tickets, he gets the courage to ask Maya out on a date and she surprisingly accepts.  And then she surprises him further revealing that she loves fantasy roleplaying as well and becomes an essential part of his D&D parties!  It would seem that there is no limit to the things that Jude can do with his magic die until, that is, his luck changes.

Maya turns out to be a lovely person but not the love of his life.  His true love is actually with someone else.  His grade start slipping again.  Every good deed he tries to perform backfires on him.  It would seem that the die has now cursed him and he can only roll d1s.  But for everything that goes wrong, some new opportunity arrives.  Jude begins to discern that it isn't a simple matter of good and bad luck.

For a novel based (as its predecessor Instant Karma was) around Beatles references, the lesson of this story actually comes to us from the Stones -- "you can't always get what you get what you need." As Jude's luck seems to reverse, he comes to understand that luck itself is overrated.  And the best things in life are not determined by fate, but by courage and taking chances.

Continuing the unobtrusive magical nature that Meyer played with in Instant Karma, there are plenty of similarities but is is an imminently more satisfying story.  Prudence and Quint from that book play minor roles here to give us some foundation, but Jude's struggles to gain self-confidence and his acts of bravery are much more relatable that Pru's acts of karmic vengeance.  And while a string of hillariously improbable coincidences at the end of the story might have derailed the whole thing, they in fact are quite in keeping with the spirit of this fun and enjoyable read.

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