There were twenty-five letters in all. They went to girls who lived in apartment buildings in cities and farmhouses in the country and condos in the suburbs. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains, on a merit scholarship. Each letter came with a registration form, a packing list, and a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theater under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist Inge F. Yancey IV.
Camp So-and-So, by Mary McCoy

There are five cabins of girls at Camp So-and-So this year, and five vastly different camping experiences. Almost immediately upon arrival:

Cabin #1 is pulled into the All-Camp Sport & Follies, a competition with the rich-kid camp across the lake…

Cabin #2 discovers that they’re being hunted by a murderous camper from years past…

Cabin #3 heads out on an Epic Quest to save the world…

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Cabin #4 finds their soul mates living in a secluded cabin in the woods…

And Cabin #5 is cut off from the rest of the camp, forced to ration resources and work together in the hopes of surviving to see the end of the day, let alone the end of the week.

This book actually came out back in March, but with summer camp in full swing up here—finally!—it seems like an appropriate time to take a look. If you’re looking for a fun, fast, plot-driven read that’s comfortably reminiscent of a bunch of other things, look no further:

If you like Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, this might be a good fit for you: both feature huge casts of characters in isolated settings; both celebrate the tenacity and endurance of teen girls; both play with genre conventions and work to make readers consider their own expectations and assumptions.

If you like how Kate and M. Sarah Klise tell stories from multiple perspectives and angles and formats and timelines, this might be a good fit for you.

If you like intrusive narrators à la Arrested Development, this book might be a good fit for you.

Making this comparison is a spoiler in itself, but it can’t be ignored: if you like the movie Cabin in the Woods, this book might be a good fit for you.

All of that said, if you’re looking for something original, something with emotional depth, and strong character development, you’ll be better served elsewhere. A good part of that is deliberate—McCoy plays with a lot of character archetypes and literary genres here—but while it’s clear that the book is working to subvert those conventions and tropes, it’s not entirely successful. Some of the many, many characters carry more weight than others—and some come close to transcending their archetype nature, though most remain indistinguishable from one another—but overall, Camp So-and-So reads like a 400+ page writing exercise, and one that leans much more heavily on style than substance.

Entertaining, yes. Fun, absolutely. Memorable, not so much.

Points for the kelpie, though. I’m always here for kelpies.

In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom and The Backlist, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.