Hey guys!! How are you all doing? I have tried writing this intro like five times already and they all sucked, so I’m going to go and start this review!!
Author: Lev A.C. Rosen
Genre: YA Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Date published: May 26th 2020
Rep: biracial Asian main character, POC side characters, pretty much every LGBTQ+ rep you could think of
Length: 384 pages
Content warning: toxic masculinity, internalised homophobia, homophobia, transphobia
Find this book on Goodreads
From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.
Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim — who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ — buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.
But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself: How much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
So, I kind of kept putting off writing this review and like an idiot I didn’t take any notes so bear with me here.
This book definitely wasn’t bad. Actually, I quite liked the end, and I thought it talked about a lot of important things I will mention later. If I could, I would separate my rating in two parts: one for the first half-ish of the book, one for the other. For the entire first half, I just really was not convinced. My rating was maybe 2.5/3 stars. (Not anything against the book, but like always I go off of recommendations and don’t really read the summary as well as I should, and I honestly spent the first few pages extremely confused about what was going on.) I didn’t really like Del, and I didn’t really like Hudson either. I felt like not much was happening, I had already predicted the whole book and I was just so not convinced by the romance.
The romance just felt forced to me at first. Of course, in this type of situation where the main character has had a crush on the love interest before the beginning of the book, it seems like you don’t have much choice but to just tell the readers the main character likes the love interest. So, that’s exactly what happened; I went into the book and was simply told “Del” (Randy) has a crush on Hudson. Or rather, that he likes Hudson because he makes him “feel special”. hmmmm, still not convinced.
Randy’s “plan” felt ridiculous for the most part. I had absolutely no doubt that it was going to work – there would have been no book if it didn’t – but I also knew exactly how every part was going to go down. I mean, there just really wasn’t that much room for surprises. The plot could be easily guessed from the start.
But now I’m going to stop talking about the bad, because this book had definitely some very good parts. After the first half, the book picked up, I could see some light at the end of the tunnel, and I was finally convinced by the romance and rooting for the couple. Took a bit too long, but we got there!
First, Randy more or less stopped annoying me as much as he did before. The friendships and relationships other than the main couple developed and were just very, very cute. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but the second part definitely made the book.
Camp, most importantly, discusses (and discusses well) the problems of toxic masculinity and internalised homophobia. They are themes throughout the book, and while it’s not really addressed until the end, you can definitely see many signs beforehand. These issues being pretty widespread in the LGBTQ+ community – and not so often, at least not often enough, talked about – this is probably the part of the book I loved the most. Another theme that is discussed toward the end of the book is safety. And that’s another thing I think is so important and needs to be discussed more. Sometimes, it’s just not safe to be yourself because of your environment, and I think it’s very important to put your own safety before anything else; this book does a great job at talking about that.
All in all, I definitely wish I had liked this book more than I did. Still, I think it’s very much worth the read: for the diversity and the important themes it addresses.
Have you read Camp? If yes, tell me what you thought! Who was your favourite character, and why?
Stay safe everyone!! Sending you lots of love!!! ❤️
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