Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brain Camp

Camp Fielding is the answer to troubled parents' prayers. Unruly, troubled, and academically challenged kids check in, and obedient, respectful, and ready to learn young adults check out. And what's more, the camp is absolutely free, though you do have to receive one of their private invitations. Meanwhile at camp and outside of parents' view, the campers face some odd circumstances, including a high amount of camper turnover, strange skin conditions that affect people's foreheads, and the occasional coughing up of feathers.

Jenna and Lucas enter into this "camp for losers," and begin to unravel what is going on. Lucas is a classic down-on-his luck kid. His mom struggles to raise him on her own, and he's fallen in with a bad crowd. Jenna's worst sins are being interested in drama and not following in her sister's footsteps and getting accepted into Yale at age 14. This unlikely pair are the last students excepted to the camp this summer, and they enter a world that is part arts and crafts, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Brain Camp is the second graphic novel collaboration between Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan. Both are playwrights who also write for television. Kim has been nominated for an Emmy Award multiple times and is also famous for her stage adaptation of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. Notably, Klavan is also a mystery novelist. Faith Erin Hicks provided the artwork. She has created a few of her own graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere and Zombies Calling!

From what I have seen, reviews have been mostly positive. Jim Mroczkowski pointed out that Brain Camp is a graphic novel that does not insult adolescents' intelligence and called it "an excellent, unqualified recommendation for anyone who wants to get a young person into comics." Reading Rants found this "sweetly sadistic" story reminiscent of a scary campfire tale. Offering a contrary opinion, Johanna Draper Carlson wrote, "There’s an overall lack of cohesion, leaving me wanting more of the pieces that had nothing to do with the story while not particularly enjoying the predictable main plot."

A preview and video trailer are available here from the book's publisher, First Second.

Thank you, Gina, for the review copy!

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