This book is every young boy’s camp fantasy: solving a mystery, falling into a summer romance, and making strange friends along the way.
Shortly after the death of his father, lonely eighth-grade boy Greyson Gray attends a sports summer camp, where a series of events causes him to discover, and ultimately unravel, a sinister terrorist plot. Though the plot takes a bit too long to finally get underway, Greyson Gray: Camp Legend by B.C. Tweedt features a slew of memorable characters and clever dialogue.
This book is just basic fun. It’s not one to think too hard about. The action is fast paced and cartoony, though still full of well-written descriptions, whether Greyson is running from vicious terrorists disguised as cafeteria workers or bantering with villains set on murdering him. These scenes aren’t meant to feel real—rather, this story is more like every young boy’s camp fantasy: solving a mystery, falling into a summer romance, and making strange friends along the way. Every chapter makes you feel like a kid at summer camp again, speculating on what each bump in the night could possibly be. It’s a late-night conversation between bunkmates come to life.
The comedy is genuinely funny, and the book is written with clever and intelligent wit. The dialogue is fast and filled with humor ranging from childish to strangely adult. While the book never falls into the realm of the plausible—a terrorist plot at a summer camp, with cafeteria workers trying to kill children—it isn’t supposed to. The children themselves do not act like real eighth-graders, but rather how eighth-graders imagine they would act in such a situation. It matches the fast-paced, mystery-solving tone of the book. While running from a cafeteria worker, Greyson carries a walkie-talkie, with his friend on the other line. Backed into a corner, Greyson thinks fast and threatens to incriminate the worker who is trying to kill him by having his friend hear the entire thing. Scenes like this show the audience that Greyson is smart and quick on his feet.
Greyson’s good moral compass and affinity for dares make him an interesting protagonist. When he was younger, he and his father communicated primarily in dares. After his dad’s death, Greyson finds himself still unable to turn one down, even if it proves to be unsafe. The audience will find themselves rooting for him, and the terrorist plot takes a backseat to Greyson’s own coming-of-age story as he makes friends with a cast of strangely likable weirdos—a chronic stutterer who remains strong and insistent in spite of his condition, a pair of twins wanting their independence, and an angsty boy who dislikes participation. There’s also camp counselor Brandon, an adult who purely wants what is best for Greyson and the rest of the children. They build a nice, intergenerational friendship in a world where most of the adults the characters encounter are, in fact, trying to kill them.
While it might not have much to offer adult readers, the novel is worth checking out for just a good old-fashioned mystery and clever dialogue. Young adults, ages ten to about fourteen, would get the most enjoyment out of this book.