Secrets of Camp Whatever – Reviews for Volume 1 & 2

Secrets of Camp Whatever is a new graphic novel series for Middle Graders. The first Volume released March of 2021 and the second volume is out in stores today (June 7, 2022)! I had not previously heard of this series until Oni Press contacted me, but once I read the blurb about a summer camp experience turning supernatural – I knew I was in! 

Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family—and fate itself—seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.

As someone who has studied American Sign Language and the Deaf Community, I enjoy seeing that representation in stories. The main character, Willow, is deaf but has hearing aids which allow her to communicate more easily with the other campers. I love that she was a central character, but her disability rep was surface level to me; I would’ve liked more depth into her character with that element in mind. Specifically, why did she choose to use hearing aids; are they aids or cochlear implants? Is she deaf or hard of hearing? And more about her experience being surrounded by hearing people and connection (or lack there of) to the Deaf community. That all said, I adored Willow’s personality and seeing her band of friends develop at the camp was cute and each of those characters had unique and interesting arcs themselves. 

The plot and illustrations were all very fun. I loved the setting of the spooky island summer camp, and it isn’t what you typically expect when the words ‘summer camp’ come to mind. This would make a fun Halloween themed read for anyone working on their fall TBR because of the setting, creepy fog, and inclusion of several paranormal creatures! One of my favorite things about the story, was that the plot wasn’t predictable. There were several twists and big reveals that were unexpected and delightful. That and the humor did have me cracking up throughout.

My complaints with this story were that a few transitional scenes were abrupt between panels and there was a part involving poop that leaned too heavily into juvenile humor, and for me it cheapened the story. I think middle grade kids would enjoy this the most, but older readers will too if you go in expecting some MG humor mixed in. This was a 3.5 Star read for me, but with how it ended I was still eager to read the sequel.

When twelve-year-old Willow went to her weird new town’s even weirder summer camp, she didn’t expect to get caught up in an ancient mystery involving forest-dwelling vampires, living garden gnomes, and other completely bonkers creatures most people would never believe exist. Now she’s not only involved, she’s marked—too close to the heart of an ages-old quest for power and control than she should be, and too concerned about her new friends and the dangers they face to let them go it alone. With the help of a spell book and her scrappy crew of camp friends, Willow is about to step through a doorway to magic and discovery that will change her world forever.

Shortly after finishing Volume 1, I jumped back into the world with Willow and friends for Doors to Nowhere. I enjoyed this volume even more than the first! The storyline was slightly darker and less comedic, but more of a suspenseful mystery plot. It gave me serious Scooby-Doo and friends vibes, which I loved. A group of kids always uncovering secrets and plots of sinister adults.

The theme of supernatural creatures continued & I was happy to see familiar creatures from the previous book as well as new additions. Both volumes were witty and hilarious.

The ending had an unexpected twist with the epilogue and I’m curious to see what comes next! The illustrations matched with the theme of Volume 1, and transitions were greatly improved for this installment. This ended up being a solid 4 star rating for me and one I’ll recommend to my kiddos! Thanks again to Oni Press for sending me copies of this series for an honest review.

Reviewed by Coco

Leave a Reply