Buddy Reads & Rants: Camp Carnage (Jonny Pongratz and Iseult Murphy)
Hello Blogging World!
Iseult: Hello campers, it is I, Iseult, mistress of dark fiction and things that go bump in the night.
Jonny : And this is your camp-hating nerd friend Jonny!
I have a healthy dislike of camping, well that and creepy basements, which you can find in my Reaper novel here. Let the campy slashy murder talks begin!
This buddy read and rant is for Camp Carnage by Joshua Winning and Elliott Cross.
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…
Buddy Read Book Rant:
Jonny: Man, this was the perfect time of year to read this! Smores, campfires, I loved the campy ambience. How did you like this campy read? Have you ever been to a camp or camping before?
Iseult: I’ve never been to camp. As an introvert, it sounds horrifying to me, without even factoring in them trying to change me ( or kill me!). I think it’s a fantastic setting for a horror book.
Jonny: I’ve actually been to camp twice (that I can recall). There was a camping trip in fifth grade (for some reason it used to be a big rite of passage from elementary into middle school) and then another trip in middle school. I remembering not caring for it much until I got my first kiss (the later camp experience), but that was nothing like the scenario in this book!
These kids are here against their will to be ‘made straight’. I’m so glad my mom didn’t try to send me anywhere once she found out I was gay. Besides, nature and me don’t get along very well, and if you add in people disappearing I’m out. So out!
Iseult: Sounds like your camp experiences weren’t too bad. Being stuck in the woods having to do girly activities sounds like my idea of hell. I think I’d want the killer to get me!
How do you think the authors handled the whole conversion camp experience? I thought it got a bit serious in the middle of the book, and while I enjoyed the depth that brought to the characters, it made me conflicted about the more horror heavy ending.
Jonny: Yeah, it could’ve been way worse, although I will say the food was awful.
Oh I hear you there. Besides tug of war, which I actually like, the boys’ exercises they did would’ve been nightmarish for me.
Right? Just leave in the middle of the exercise, go into the middle of the woods and say “go ahead and kill me now. This place blows!” Haha.
I think it was handled pretty well overall. In the beginning things were light and they got more intense by the middle, but I actually think they could’ve made the camp experience even intense.
I do agree with you on that. The ending left me feeling a bit disappointed because it felt so much was left up in the air. Some of the deaths I could picture the victim somehow surviving, and I definitely had my favorites picked out pretty early. Who was your favorite?
Iseult: Yeah I think they could have gone more full on with the camp experience. They didn’t make it too intense at all.
I loved Billy, and Jem. I have to give credit to the authors for making me care so much about Kyle. He was a bit of a bully, but they made him human, so I’m glad he was part of the team.
Who was your favorite character?
Jonny: Exactly. Maybe if the counselors had been harsher on them and made the exercises more grueling it would’ve given the book the dark feel to help push things along better.
They were my favorite too! Billy had this great innocence about him they reminded me of myself when I was younger and coming to terms with things. Jem had this no nonsense attitude that made her POV thrilling.
Kyle reminded me of myself in my early twenties, a little too proud and obnoxious, but I think he really had the most growth out of anyone.
I felt a really strong emotional connection with this characters, and that’s why I rated it so high.
I don’t think we got to know the other characters well enough to make them favorites, but I think that was intentional.
This whole book felt like a horror movie translated to book form, and that really worked for me. Every scene I could picture in my head very easily.
Iseult: Aw, I can just see you as a teen. I think we’d be friends if we had been forced to go to that camp. You’d be able to run away from the killer no problem. I’d have to use my smarts to think up an ingenious trap. Or perhaps I’d transform into an animal and defend myself that way.
I found the characters a little stereotypical at the beginning of the book. They were very much the characters you’d find in a movie, but they developed as the story progressed. I agree, Kyle had the most growth, but I instantly liked Billy, and I liked how he tried to befriend Kyle.
I think this would make a great movie or limited tv series. What did you think of the killer? I loved the murders at the beginning of the book, but there seemed to be no deaths for a while in the middle, and I would have liked more information about the killer to have been sprinkled throughout the book.
Jonny: Yeah, I think so too. I was quite a bit more shy then, and I think we would’ve bonded over our hatred of the camp and all the stupid exercises and slop food.
I was always a strong runner, but hopefully I would have the sense to stick with you and use our combined creativity to make the killer the victim instead. I’d make a great diversion!
Yeah they were a smidge cliché at first, but they really stood out as things went on. Gosh, it’s so hard not to spoil anything! Yeah, Billy definitely had the strongest morals of the group with his treatment of others.
Oh my gosh, this has to become a movie someday! The specific mix of the genres is something I haven’t seen too much of, and the world needs to see more LGBT characters.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the killer was thinking. The first deaths didn’t go noticed for a while, so I think that was the time to keep striking. That would’ve also kept things more slashery throughout.
Agreed, I wanted to know more about how the killer got to be the way they were or just have more info in general.
Maybe if the book was expanded a bit, it could’ve addressed the shortcomings we’ve been talking about.
I agree, if the book were a little longer I think it would have addressed the issues.
About the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s so hard not to mention the ending! The book was a least a four star read for me up until the end. I admit, I feel cheated. I admire what the authors were going for, and they really did keep me guessing until the end about who the killer was (which is unusual), but the ending didn’t work for me. How did the denouement work for you?
Jonny: They could’ve sprinkled tiny hints in here and there. Maybe a personal belonging of someone’s is found somewhere. Even if whoever finds it doesn’t know who it belongs to, that would get the reader thinking.
Instead I kind of thought it was every character at some point. Katherine! No wait, the Father! Michaela? Donny?
We just needed a bit more guidance with clues.
As for the actual ending, I just wanted to know whether certain characters had survived or not and we didnt get that, which was disappointing.
Still, I think this was a good read, and now I’ve gotta find some more campy slashers with gay characters!
I was the same. I think I suspected every character at one stage or another!
This is the first camp slasher I’ve read, rather than watched, and I really enjoyed it. I definitely would read more books like this.
Yeah, it’s not a bad thing to have the reader go through that, but the entire book we didnt really have any clue who it was until near the end.
Jonny: Yay! I’m sure we will find some great books to try out for next month. Thanks so much for doing this with me again. I’d definitely fight a serial killer for you! 🙂
Iseult: Thank you, Jonny. I love our buddy reads. Aw, I’d be fighting right along beside you. No serial killer gonna get the better of us. 🙂
That’s A Wrap!
Thanks for joining us on our buddy read and rant of Camp Carnage! We had a lot of fun, and hope you did too! We will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, why not check out Iseult and Jonny’s other fun buddy reads?
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