Bad Luck (The Bad Books, #2) Review
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With 2014’s Bad Magic, the mysterious author known as Pseudonymous Bosch began a new series of magical adventures for young readers. And for the follow-up, Bad Luck, he continues the series with more magic, more fantasy, and more mystery—but not quite the same personality.

The story returns to Earth Ranch, the magical camp where troubled twelve-year-old Clay is gradually getting adjusted to life among kids with special abilities—everyone, it seems, but him. One day, while he’s out playing with his friends, Clay discovers a hidden cave filled with ancient paintings. As he makes his way back to camp, he finds a boy who’s been washed ashore after falling from a cruise ship. And when the cruise ship sends out a search party to find the missing boy, Earth Ranch is suddenly placed in danger.

With Bad Luck, Bosch once again takes readers on a whimsical adventure around a secret island that’s filled with special kids who are misunderstood back home in the real, non-magical world. Clay and his new friends live in a magical place, where kids can read minds or set things on fire—and where the camp director lives in a levitating teepee that floats around the island. It’s imaginative stuff—and Bosch’s distinctive style, conversational tone, and amusing footnotes add to the fun.

Fans of Bosch’s popular Secret Series will especially enjoy Clay’s story, since the author’s new series has a very strong connection to the old one—a connection that gets stronger with this second installment. Newcomers, however, might feel like they’re missing something important in the story.

At the same time, newcomers will also be missing out on some of the author’s best work—because Bad Luck isn’t quite as quirky and clever as some of his other novels have been. Though it still has its share of magical adventures, the threat that arrives on the shore near Earth Ranch doesn’t feel quite as ominous as it should. The story also isn’t especially well-developed, and the action seems abbreviated and rushed.

The characters, too, are lacking the strong, memorable personalities that make Bosch’s books so much fun to read. Instead, this installment feels more like a setup to something bigger than a standalone novel. And while that suggests that the next book in the series will take the characters in exciting new directions, it also means that Bad Luck isn’t an especially satisfying adventure.

Thanks to the author’s creative storytelling and quirky writing style, Bad Luck is still a fun fantasy. But if you want to read some of Bosch’s best work (or you want to get the whole story), be sure to start with the Secret Series and build your way up to this one.

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