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CW’s: Ableist Comments (challenged)
Representation 🌷 Deaf MC, Black SC
Perfect for fans of Lumberjanes and Brain Camp, there’s more than mosquitos at Camp Whatever and Willow will need to face truths about herself and her family as summer camp dread goes head to head with the supernatural.
Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family—and fate itself—seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.
Thank you to Netgalley and Oni Press for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All images are taken from the Arc.
This was a nice spooky graphic novel! I actually read this back in October 2020, as it seemed like a very seasonal read, but you can of course read The Secrets of Camp Whatever Vol 1. all year round 😄 Overall, this was an interesting graphic novel centered around a mysterious camp and the paranormal lurking in the background. It’s great if you like summer camps, paranormal creatures and lots of adventure. However, I wasn’t 100% blown away by this book as it didn’t grip me like other works that I have read. Down below is a list of what I liked and didn’t like about this first graphic novel volume!
L I K E S
- Our protagonist is a deaf girl called Willow ➽ She’s not thrilled to be attending a strange camp, but has no choice as her parents are renovating the house they’ll move into soon. I liked her curiosity and insistence to do the right thing. The narrative also talks about her experiences as a deaf girl, especially with insensitive and ableist people like the new camp leader.
- I liked the camp setting and the atmosphere ➽ The summer camp is not at all what it appears to be and the mysterious and often ominous atmosphere is perfectly reflected in the art style. The fog and the secluded island location only added to the very atmospheric feel of the book and makes this a good fit to read if you want something spooky and mysterious!
- There’s also lots of adventure and friendship ➽ Willow quickly befriends her bunkmates and sets out to uncover the secrets of the camp and its inhabitants. I liked the friendship dynamics, the banter and how they all coped with finding out that there is something paranormal at camp!
- I also liked the paranormal element of the story ➽ There are several mythical creatures that Willow and her friends encounter, from actual legends to werewolves, magicians, vampires and gnomes.
© Chris Grine
D I S L I K E S
- Some things were just very strange to me ➽ Especially how Willow’s parents sent her to this super strange camp even though her father knew that another camper disappeared years ago and the old camp leader mysteriously died. You’d think Willow’s parents wouldn’t send their child to a secluded island with a history of disappearances and strange camp leaders. It also made no sense to me how no one shut down the camp. It’s got a lot of strange rules, incidents happen, and you tell me that none of the campers who return every year have told their parents about it?
- The plot dragged at a few places ➽ I mostly liked the story, but sometimes the pacing slowed down a bit too much for my liking. Especially in the middle I wasn’t as engaged anymore and felt myself zoning out sometimes. This is going to be a multiple volume graphic novel series, so I’d be interested in seeing the sequels, especially as I think they’ll be in a different setting.
- I also felt like some characters could have used more depth ➽ Willow was by far the most fleshed out, but sadly most of her bunkmates didn’t have the same depth. Similarly, the villain was a bit cartoonish at times and not the most interesting to read about.
© Chris Grine
IN CONCLUSION. ➽ Secrets of Camp Whatever Vol 1. was an interesting, atmospheric graphic novel about mysterious summer camps, adventure and paranormal creatures. However, I wasn’t always feeling engaged with the story and would have liked to see the secondary characters better developed.
Are you going to read Secrets of Camp Whatever? What is your favorite paranormal graphic novel? 👻
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