Brain Camp written by Susan Kim and Lawrence Klavan, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan
Jenna and Lucas are forced to attend summer camp by their parents. Once they arrive, they quickly realize two misfits are better together than apart, so they form a fast friendship. Things at camp seem okay for a while, but suddenly the two of them see some strange happenings – kids are disappearing, others are becoming strangely much smarter than their normal selves, and they see counselors sneaking into campers’ cabins at night. Jenna and Lucas quickly realize that they must get to the bottom of this before whatever is happening starts to happen to them too.
Typically, graphic novels are targeted toward a pre-teen and teenage audience, and while I’m much older than that, I tend to still get some kind of takeaway from them. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly the case with Brain Camp. While I didn’t dislike the book, I didn’t find anything of particular significance in it which admittedly made it difficult for me to really sink into the book.
I think the issue I’m having with Brain Camp is that I wasn’t expecting it to have such a strong sci-fi/body-snatchers vibe. Definitely this is my problem and not the book’s, but all the same when I understood where the plot was going I was not exactly thrilled. I don’t love these kinds of stories so I wasn’t surprised when I closed this book feeling less than excited about it.
But the good news is that this is just my opinion, based on my own bias toward these types of stories, which I almost never enjoy anyway. Brain Camp itself had really great artwork which I definitely liked, and an important message at its heart about how difficult it can be to fit in and how it’s so crucial to just be yourself even during those painful teenage years. So, yes, there are valuable and even excellent things about this book. But for me, I wasn’t jumping up and down about the overall experience.
So, while Brain Camp wasn’t my favorite graphic novel by a long shot, readers looking for a more lighthearted, funny story that involves some sci-fi elements will probably enjoy this one much more than I did.