Brain Camp Paperback – Bargain Price, Aug 3 2010
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About the Author
Susan Kim has written for more than three dozen children’s TV series. This is her second graphic novel. Her first, also written with Mr. Klavan, was First Second’s City of Spies. Laurence Klavan has published two mystery novels. Mr. Klavan and Ms. Kim both live in New York City. Faith Erin Hicks is the author and artist of Zombies Calling and The War at Ellsmere. She lives in Nova Scotia.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This was an interesting and odd graphic novel. I really liked the concept of the whole thing. I can't talk about too much without giving things away, but this is definitely worth the read. One thing I didn't care for was the minuscule love story in Brain Camp. Either add in some romance or leave it out, none of this brief intense stuff; it just seemed out of place. I could have handled if it was built up a little more (even though they only seemed to be at camp a short while). Lucas and Jenna were interesting characters and I wouldn't mind reading another story with them. Maybe they can solve other mysteries too at their next camp.
"Elevation, 18 degrees...angle, 38 degrees...going north by north-west, it should be right over..."
It's a short, paranoid teen graphic novel that taps into suspicions teens may have about parents and teachers desperately trying to get them to behave. The secret, it turns out, is more goofy than menacing but I liked to interaction between Lucas and Jenna. Some coming of age content makes it appropriate for 9th grade and up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this smartly-written, fast-paced thriller of a story that is probably best for fans of Goosebumps who want something more mature. One of the things I truly reveled in is that this story knows what it is- a cheesy, fun mystery where weird things are expected to happen and do- and it focuses on doing that well without trying to be more than that. Of course, in the run of doing so, there is a nice, understated satire of the labels and expectations that we place on kids and teens and how they can take these definitions to heart. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Jenna, Lucas, and their friend Dwayne bond over sharing the labels their parents and other adults in their lives have given them: "Actually, I'm secretly `bright' but for some reason I'm a real `underachiever.'"
Faith Erin Hicks' illustrations help the story along tremendously, particularly when it comes to the weird parts. One scene in particular will have you slamming the book shut at first glance and then opening it back up slowly with one eye squinting because you can't resist the urge to see what happens. And that cover... how could you not pick up a book with such a creepily intriguing cover (The eyes! They're pure EVIL!)?
Overall, Brain Camp is a wonderful, short read that leaves out the boring bits and gives it's readers the stuff they came for. Plus, with summer just around the corner, it's the perfect mental warm up for one of the best parts about this season- late night ghost stories around the campfire. Come check it out and enjoy... but don't blame me if you can't sleep afterwards.
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