Erika Carter, Lucky You [#CBR10Bingo: Listicle]
The premise itself was intriguing—three female work acquaintances all searching for direction each end up at an off-grid location under the direction of a burgeoning leader–and I added it to my ‘To Read’ list after seeing it pop up on recommended reads from NPR, the Book of the Month Club and Vulture’s website when I needed reading inspiration.
So, this book…I read it over the course of one night and generally, that is shorthand for “I had to rush to the finish, OMG, how does this end?!???!?” Erika Carter’s Lucky You was not that type of book for me. Without a doubt, I looked forward to the end of it like a person midway through a new dish at a chain restaurant: not actively suffering, slogging through a pile of big pile of tasteless whatever. “No, waitress, please just take the plate away.”
It could have been a result of the passive nature of the characters in the book and maybe it seeped into Carter’s view of the three main women. The names added to a character outline, full of traits that never connect to each other to become a real person. Possibly, the author knew people like this in real life or created them during some creative exercise to emulate specific authors’ styles like Philip Roth or Martin Amis. Either way, she had a clear judgment of her characters, yet no understanding; her transparent disdain rendered them completely irrelevant. The writing was never clever or structured in a way that made this on purpose, so no points for that potential.
I didn’t need to identify with my protagonists nor find them likeable; to have some sort of vested interest in what happened to them, though, would have made reading the book worth more than a shrug. Any curiosity from the author herself, would have helped, too. I expected some creepiness or a hint of feeling uncomfortable, any escalation of tension. Even if your cult leader is ineffectual, it shouldn’t make him more harmless than a toddler on cold medicine.
Carter hinted at premises like Stockholm syndrome, and scenes of a potential serial killer in a cabin in the middle of the woods, but clearly felt both crime fiction plots were beneath her. Both may be clichés, but they have expected pay-offs. In their place, Carter’s Lucky You served something I barely remembered moments after finishing the book.