'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Review: This Camp is Doomed

Big story world, big characters, big mystery. Let me explain.

When you first start this novel, you’ll be forgiven for believing it’s a story about a group of kids heading off to school camp. But don’t be fooled. There’s something different about the kids from Dennith Grange, and indeed the entire world this story is set in.

See, in this story world, everyone has a power. Powers manifest in the teen years and they could be anything from being able to navigate really well to being able to control fire.

The detail with which Zobel builds this world is incredible. Of course, kids with powers has been done before, but not like this. Powers in this world are not something that make you stand out or unique.

Everyone has a power here, and some of them are more hindrance than help. You must learn to master your power – control it so it doesn’t control you. It’s a brilliant metaphor for the struggles of life as we grow.

Add to the world fascinating and varied characters and you’ve got another rich layer to this story. This group of kids, heading off to Camp Buttress, are from different friendship groups, different classes and very different backgrounds. They are extremely diverse. Each one is struggling with their own issues and trying to master their own powers (or waiting for them to arrive).

You get to meet them all in great detail, as Zobel varies the character perspective throughout the book. Jumping from character to character can take a little bit of getting used to, but the insights this delivers is well worth the effort. You see more of each of the characters than you would in a one perspective story. It helps build the story world.

Then comes the mystery – the plot of the story. While other classmates and friends have ended up at circus camp and surf camp, these rag-tag group of kids have seemingly drawn the short straw. They’re heading to Camp Buttress, which is more of a traditional style camp with standard cabins, campfires and lots of team building activities. But the regular camp instructors are missing, there’s a creepy cook hanging about and a strange ghost boy appears in the middle of the forest.

Something strange is happening at Camp Buttress, and there’s nothing like a grand mystery to bring a bunch of reluctant friends together.

This Camp is Doomed is one of those powerful books that you don’t forget easily. It’s addictive and impactful. It’s different, which is special and refreshing.

Title: This Camp is Doomed
Author/illustrator: Anna Zobel 
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $16.99
Publication Date: 29 August 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781761047565
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade