184. Brain Camp by Susan Kim

Brain Camp by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan. Artwork by Faith Erin Hicks (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 151 pages
Ages: 13+
Finished: Sept. 7, 2010
First Published: Aug. 3, 2010
Publisher: First Second Books
Genre: YA, graphic novel, science fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

"Elevation, 18 degrees... angle, 38 degrees... going north by north-west, it should be right over...Bingo."

Acquired: Received a review copy from First Second Books.

Reason for Reading: I really enjoy Canadian Faith Erin Hicks' work and just seeing she'd illustrated this book put it on my radar but once I'd read the plot I knew the story would be right up my alley.

This is a spooky, eerie, creepy, but fun little story that had the Twilight Zone theme music playing in my head at certain moments when sudden weird things were noticed. I had a great time reading this. Ms. Hicks' illustration is perfect for the theme, with her dark outlined characters, expressive faces and eyes that are always a bit too big for the heads. A full range of colour is used but the matching blue shirts of the campers are used to an added creepy effect and the startling bright monotones of sand for a flashback and green for a nightmare were very effective.

Both Jenna and Lucas end up at Camp Fielding because it is their parents last hope for them. They are both very smart but don't show it. Lucas is a slacker running with the wrong crowd and his alcoholic mother doesn't waste a moment letting him know how disappointing and stupid he is. Jenna, on the other hand, comes from a family of overachievers, both her parents are specialized doctors, her little sister is a genius planning her own specialized medical career, while Jenna just can't join the family game. She acts out, being silly, embarrassing her parents and doesn't bother to try to apply herself. Camp Fielding is an educational camp that is supposed to turn out geniuses. Both Jenna and Lucas are sent as a last resort. But things are not as they would have expected. They are only fed slop. Special campers are given ice cream treats for no particular reason. When Jenna's ice cream is stolen by another girl she finds her bunk mates are all sleeping like the dead. Then a camper goes missing and when Jenna and Lucas venture into the woods and peek inside a solitary cabin they find, what they see has them scared out of their wits.

Not an overly complicated story and character development is focused on Jenna and Lucas. Even though they both do have a friend in their bunks, these characters are just used as plot devices and the rest of the campers are simply background. The story runs on plot alone and is a fun ride. Not entirely unpredictable, but creepy and enjoyable. I had a great read with it and like any good Twilight Zone episode it has an ending with a twist.


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