In the summer of 1986, Billy Collins is sent to his own personal Hell – summer camp. The remote Camp Genesis offers desperate parents a place to “straighten” out their gay teenagers with the help of the puritanical Katherine Creevey.
Besides the typical horsing around, campfire tales and summer games, the Genesis program forces gay and questioning teens into humiliating gender-based lessons. While Billy wants nothing more than to escape Camp Genesis, he can’t help worrying that something even more sinister is hiding just out of sight.
Unknown to Billy, two campers were murdered three years ago. Just days after Billy and the new campers arrive, people start to go missing, and it’s up to Billy and his new friend Jem to find out what’s really going on. Is a maniac on the loose? Is history repeating itself? One thing’s for sure – at Camp Genesis, you have to fight to survive…
Camp Carnage by Elliot Arthur Cross and Joshua Winning starts out with a prologue, which is no problem, especially since it demonstrates the dark and bloody history of the camp. Prologues can occasionally take away from the story but in this book, it enhances it.
We then greet our young hero, William “Billy” Collins, as he is arriving at the Genesis camp with his father, is unceremoniously dropped off, and alone. He soon meets Jemima, “Jem”, and they begin to form a friendship over their shared misery of being sent to Camp Genesis due to their sexuality and being subjected to a program to “fix” them.
This book utilized a lot of the 1980’s horror movie tropes, even being set in 1986. There was enough blood to bathe in, especially in the later chapters. The villain was sufficiently psychotic but hid it well in the beginning. And you even have the typical horror movie trope characters: the jerk, the jock, the nerd, the punk, the one black guy, the slut, and the fat kid. And, of course, all of those who get murdered each find a way to get stalked and slaughtered while alone by the killer, up to the final bloodbath where the killer is more openly pursuing the campers. However, the writers did not follow some of the core horror movie tropes and that took away from the feel of the 1980’s slasher movies that some of us know and love.
The flow of the scenes and chapter to chapter went fairly well. The book was written in close third person. I did get thrown off when, a few chapters in, I began a new chapter and I was not reading from Billy or Jem’s standpoint but an entirely new character that hadn’t even been introduced yet. Judging by the plot summary used in advertising this book, I believed that I was going to follow along from only Billy and Jem’s point of view. Knowing that, the rest of the book didn’t throw me off again and the changing point of view between several of the characters enhanced the story, especially the last several chapters with the rapid sequence of events that were taking place.
The plot summary of Camp Carnage states that “puritanical Katherine Creevy” runs the camp. Given that, there should have been a lot more discussions about God and praying, by the priest, and by Katherine Creevy, but there is little to no mention at all of the Bible, God, and prayer. In the very least, they should have started every activity by praying for their immortal souls because this is what these camps were about in the 1980s. I do not approve of such things at all but I expected to read about it in the book because that is the kind of place that these camps were-you got the Bible shoved down your throat until you screamed for mercy and claimed that you were “straightened”.
The book gives a lot of 1980’s pop culture references to demonstrate the times. There is a problem with using this era and utilizing those references is that there will be some young adults reading in the Young Adult genre that just won’t understand those references. A lot of young adults don’t even know what a record player is. Depending on the reader, it may be distracting when the book mentions things that make the reader confused. However, the slang usage was totally wicked. And that is something that most people can follow because a lot of it has carried over.
Overall, the book was well thought-out and mimicked the 1980’s slasher films fairly well. The murder scenes were well played and full of blood and most of the writing was engaging, except for the unexpected initial point of view change and a couple of other minor errors that another proofreading may have caught.
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Rae Glenn loves reading so much that it has become a physical need. Supporting the LGBT youth has become as important to her as breathing. It is only natural for these to come together. You can find her @LovelyRedMuffin.