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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 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?


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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 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?

30 review for Camp

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    I fully support this author's mission to destroy toxic masculinity with a single queer book

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to Alex at Little Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review This is one of my favorite books that deals with mental illness! To see the others and to here me ramble about my brain, watch my video, A Brief Trip Inside My Mind! ------------ "Honey, I’ve been around the block a lot longer than you have, and I promise you, a man who makes you change to be with him isn’t worth it." When I received this book in the mail, I didn’t expect it Many thanks to Alex at Little Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review This is one of my favorite books that deals with mental illness! To see the others and to here me ramble about my brain, watch my video, A Brief Trip Inside My Mind! ------------ "Honey, I’ve been around the block a lot longer than you have, and I promise you, a man who makes you change to be with him isn’t worth it." When I received this book in the mail, I didn’t expect it to be such a strong and bright beam of light in an otherwise bland week of reading. It covered so many things that are near and dear to my heart. From toxic masculinity to body image, this book is completely full of invaluable messages and joy. So, what’s this book about? Every year, a group of LGBTQIA teens gets together at the esteemed Camp Outland. This year, Randy, who is now going as “Dell” has come to camp as a completely different person. He used to be a femme, painting his nails and participating in theater, but this year, he has plans to woo Hudson, his long-time crush. To do this, he has bulked up and dressed like a straight guy. After his plan succeeds, Randy (Del?) is thrilled but how long can he keep up his mask of masculinity (see what I did there)? ➵ Randy ‘Del’ Kapplehoff - For the rest of this review, I will be referring to this character as Randy, even though he was technically ‘Del’ for 90% of the book. Not that either name was used as this was told in first person POV. My heart broke for Randy. Exploration of self and forcing change to that self to get outward validation are some things that have been a big (and somewhat negative) part of my life. More on my the sh*t-show that is adolescence in a minute! ➵ Hudson Aaronson-Lim - I am surprised to say that I didn’t crush on Hudson at all. There was not a single drop of attraction. I know… it’s weird. I think it’s because he was… I don’t want to say masculine because it wasn’t a masculinity/femininity thing. I think he was just… a jerk? I’ll talk about his character arc in the spoiler-y section. ➵ George - There is absolutely nothing hateable about George. He’s funny, good looking, and a kind. If I had to choose one character in this book to f**k be my boyfriend, it would be George. I think the biggest theme in this book is… It’s cheesy, sure. But we need to hear this message. Still. Humanity is making strides with kindness and equality but we are far from done. And so, until the world is perfect, we will need stories with these messages. Throughout the story, Randy is constantly pushing his true self down which broke my heart because I used to do that. Not to the extent that Randy did but I did it. Before I came out (March 2019), I was pushing down my inner gay into the darkest recesses of my mind, which ended up making me depressed and miserable (it also almost ruined my faith but I won’t get into that because religion was/is a whole spiel.) The book also briefly covers body image and body dysmorphia but VERY briefly, which is fine. It had other things it wanted to focus on but I did appreciate the bits—although short—that were included. In the end, I think that everyone should know that, if you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. I won’t tell you to “Just be yourself” because if it was that easy… well, I wouldn’t have the scars and stories that I have today. I can tell you, without a doubt, your biggest critic… is you. Once you realize that, you’ll start to learn which voices are yours and which are our demon’s. I won’t—can’t—promise that the demon’s voice will ever go away but I can promise that, with perseverance, medication, and a whole lotta therapy, the voice will become quieter and quieter until it’s barely a hum. OKAY, sappy talk over let’s talk about ROMANCCEEEEEEEEEE. Horny yet? The romance between Hudson and Randy was not my favorite. It was very insta-lovey, which I didn’t mind too much, but the fact that Randy felt he had to change to be loved was just heartbreaking and made the whole dynamic between them leave a sour taste in my mouth. That said, (view spoiler)[it does have a nice redemptive ending (hide spoiler)] Another thing, the representation in this is Also, why the f**k was this: a result when I searched 'superb gif'. Anyways, so much good representation. Transgender! Lesbian! Gay! Pan! Bi! Demisexual! YOU NAME IT, THEY IDENTIFY AS IT! There was also a ton of good discussion of toxic masculinity and gender roles. I wish there were books like this for fetus Tucker because when I was little I was told: -’Don’t hold your books that way. Hold them like a man.’ -’No you can’t wear dresses, nail polish, or makeup. Those are for girls.’ -’Men must always protect women.’ No joke. What neither I nor my parents knew was that I was ‘undifferentiated-androgynous’ or in normal terms, equal parts feminine and masculine / neither feminine nor masculine. Basically, I didn’t (don’t) want to be assigned a gender role. I like just being a bookish and anxious teenager who is gay AF. Finally, I really loved the setting of summer camp. It is such an underused trope which is amazing for so many reasons! Secretive meetings in the middle of the night! Friends! Campfires! OHMYGOD S’MORESSSSSSSSSSSS Well, now I’m hungry. Overall, this book was hilarious, romantic, and sweet but also covered some heavy yet important themes. I cannot recommend it enough… Imma go get a s’more now. Bottom Line: 4.5 Stars Age Rating: [ R ] Content Screening (Spoilers) - Educational Value (4/5) - [Proper terminology for the LGTBQIA community, brief history of gay & trans rights.] ~ Positive Messages (4/5) - [Be yourself.] ~ Violence (1/5) - [Brief discussion of homophobic & transphobic violence] ~ Langauge (3/5) - [F**k, d*ck, b*tch, sh*t, damn] ~ Sex (5/5) - [Detailed discussion of sex, detailed intercourse/kissing scenes, sexual jokes and themes throughout the entire book] ~ Drinking/Drugs (1/5) - [Discussion estrogen/testerone injections] Trigger and Content Warning - Transphobia, Homophobia, Gender dysphoria, Body dysphoria, use of the word ‘f*gg*t’ (all in a negative light) Reps: [Transgender, Gay, Lesbian, Demisexual, Women of Color, PTSD, Veteran] Cover: 4/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 5/5 Publication Date: May 26th, 2020 Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers Genre: Romance/LGBTQIA And now, the spoiler discussion! SPOILERS ARE COMING! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! [Credit: @pikaole] (view spoiler)[In the end, we discover that Hudson was exposed to homophobia and has thus hidden his inner femme. This realization really helped me understand why he was acting the way he was acting. That said, I was really frustrated with him throughout the book. I was also frustrated with Randy for liking Hudson and for changing himself to win Hudson over. I know. That’s the whole point of the book but it was still annoying in the moment. (hide spoiler)] ----------- 4.5 Stars! OMG THAT WAS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYONE GO READ IT NOW!! ----------- i really wish i could have found books like these when i was a smol child. this is such an important topic that we don't see enough of | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: gay Jewish mc, half-Korean gay Jewish li, Middle Eastern gay Jewish side character, demi lesbian side character, Afro-Brazilian-American sapphic side character, Black trans side character, nonbinary side character, gay side characters (really, an LGBT cast) Review also on my blog. ARC provided by the publisher. First things first: if you’ve read the blurb and you’re kind of worried about the whole ‘pretending to be someone else to get a boy’ thing - don’t be. It’s handled with so much grace; rep: gay Jewish mc, half-Korean gay Jewish li, Middle Eastern gay Jewish side character, demi lesbian side character, Afro-Brazilian-American sapphic side character, Black trans side character, nonbinary side character, gay side characters (really, an LGBT cast) Review also on my blog. ARC provided by the publisher. First things first: if you’ve read the blurb and you’re kind of worried about the whole ‘pretending to be someone else to get a boy’ thing - don’t be. It’s handled with so much grace; Randy is being called out on his ridiculous plan by basically anyone who knows about it, constantly. The words “trick him into love you” are used. It’s not a cheap plot device, it’s a driving force of the book and there are countless discussions regarding it. Randy describes his plan as if his life was a rom-com. He will change his haircut, his wardrobe, his hobbies, the way he talks and walks, and geticulates… And it will be all worth it because at the end he will get the guy of his dreams. The thing is, it actually does feel like a rom-com at times! The plan works perfectly from day one, the boys have an adorable meet-cute, it’s all great. But that’s just the beginning, the outer layer, and the reality is that Camp uses Randy’s plan to teach him (and others) a lesson. Randy falls for Hudson without truly knowing him, after having barely any conversations with him. He calls Hudson his “dream boy”, some kind of ideal, but in fact it becomes clearer and clearer that he doesn’t really know him at all. It’s a nice contrast between Randy pretending to be Del and claiming to be in love with a boy who’s just a notch above a stranger. Two major things are happening in Camp: Randy realises that 1) Hudson is way more complicated than the idea of him he had in his mind & 2) he can have interests that are seemingly complete opposites. Randy comes into the story determined to pretend to enjoy sports only as long as it’s absolutely necessary and coming back to theatre as soon as he drops the L word & gets his happy ending. But over time he finally admits to himself that he can have both, that he doesn’t have to chose one side and stay there forever. While for years Randy just took Hudson at face value, put the meaning he figured fits to Hudson’s words, the plan unfolding wonderfully forces him to acknowledge that there’s more to the boy. He peels off layer after layer (and not just in a sexy way, but we’ll get to that) to learn that no one but our crushes (in our heads) is one dimensional. There’s always more to the story and usually you have to put in the work to discover that. Frankly, you could venture to say that Hudson also created a personality. Not necessarily a false one, just one centered by his background, by what he was taught to believe in. And yes, that does sound just like a person growing up around other people, but it plays a grander role in a gay person’s life. We have to hide certain aspects of ourselves for protection, accentuate other, safer parts to fit in. That’s also exactly the idea behind the camp in the book. A safe haven for LGBT youth where they can be themselves, where they don’t have to fear to paint their nails, to hold a girl’s hand, to be the loudest version of themselves they possibly can. A summer camp created with love and care, with no place for shame. A groundbreaking concept, really. But even in this little bubble not everything is always perfect. The best part, though, is that none of those hiccups, none of the conflict ever feels like it’s just there for plot reasons. Camp is largely character-driven, with Randy and his very strong voice at the center, and the whole novel really is about growth and acceptance, and reevaluating your world views. The whole cast is beautifully fleshed out, even down to catch phrases and tiny mannerisms. (Mark’s constant mentioning of his therapist might have been one of my favourite things. And Randy’s ‘sweetie’ only used at certain times was absolute gold.) Groundbreaking ideas aren’t in Camp just as part of the setting, though. There’s also the book’s approach to sex. If you’ve read any YA novels before, you know that sex is usually glossed over, not seen as something “clean” that teens should be reading about, but rather as something that has to be spoken about only in hushed voices. That’s not the case here. The book is aware it’s about teenagers and that teenagers can be horny, too. It doesn’t even bother with the fade-to-black kind of thing, just flat out describes sex scenes in the same detail all the other scenes get. Not all teens have sex at sixteen, sure, but some of them do and it’s really refreshing to see a book that acknowledges that and never tries to shame them for it (especially given it’s gay sex). Camp might seem like a gay rom-com at the first glance, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, it’s absolutely hilarious at times; yes, the romance is a vital part of it; yes, it appears sweet and simply fun. But underneath it’s shimmery-glimmery facade, it’s a story of growth and learning to love yourself, each and every part.

  4. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    I just felt way too many things reading this incredible book. 😭It absolutely made me laugh AND feel teary, which is one of the best signs of a good book. But what I really have to talk about?? The fact that Rosen books unpack topics I don't see handled often in YA. I raved about Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) which you seriously need to read as well, and how it talked about so many "taboo" subjects, not just for YA but for queer lit. And here is Camp, unpacking toxic masculinity in the queer c I just felt way too many things reading this incredible book. 😭It absolutely made me laugh AND feel teary, which is one of the best signs of a good book. But what I really have to talk about?? The fact that Rosen books unpack topics I don't see handled often in YA. I raved about Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) which you seriously need to read as well, and how it talked about so many "taboo" subjects, not just for YA but for queer lit. And here is Camp, unpacking toxic masculinity in the queer community, talking about how devastating it can be to have parents who are "accepting" but only to a point, about queer stereotypes and expectations, about femme and masc presenting people and the struggles unique to both, and discussing both queer sex and how being queer is not an inherently sexualised concept but how so many queer teens reject parts of themselves in order not to be seen that way. It's so !!! Nuanced and complex and lovingly told!! Absolutely the kind of book I wish I had as a teen. Also can we talk about the A+ premise?! Randy is off to queer camp (a glorious 4 weeks of every summer where everyone is queer and celebrated) but this time he's determined to win over the heart of the dashing Hudson, known heartbreaker and player...but who only likes masc boys. And Randy is femme. So Randy "changes" himself and stages this basically 1-man-broadway production to get Hudson to fall in love with him in 4 weeks without accidentally revealing his true self until the right moment when Hudson will definitely "Love him back no matter what!!!" says Randy. Hopefully. Doomed? Like the whole premise made me sad because I'm like OBVIOUSLY THIS WILL GO WRONG, RANDY!! But was this also me as a teen? 100% yes. And I think this is so important to talk about through a queer lens too: there's so much masking for queer teens. Are you too gay? Not gay enough? Are you being a stereotype problematically?! Or are you being a stereotype because you genuinely enjoy that? The book talks about it all. So it is set in a camp! I absolutely thoroughly hate camping and the outdoors and I just :) only now remembered this. But it also took me back to my teen camps and how deeply hyped they were until I got there and softly wanted to die. BUT ANYWAY. This one is amazing. So queer inclusive. I mean, everyone is queer. Supportive. They do queer education too, but there's theatre and sports and bad camp food and canoe trips. The works. It was so fun to read! Connie says a weekend in the woods is what camp is all about. I say the point of camp is to be able to be near enough to the woods to appreciate them, but not live in them. other things I loved: ➢ the friendships at camp!! George and Ashleigh are AMAING. George is the purest most lovely drama queen, femme and delivers the best lines. Ashleigh is demisexual and crushing on a straight lifeguard that her friends are trying to distract her from. They are an EPIC friendship trio! But also... ➢ there are so many amazing side characters? All the theatre kids are lovely and hyper, salty and real and complex. And so much loving rep! Nonbinary characters, trans teens and leaders, an aro/ace girl, POC teens. (I wished there had been some queer disability rep though.) ➢ it celebrated being glamours and beautiful and tossing gender confirmities ➢ MARK. Camp leader. Absolutely dramatic. Absolutely loved him. (Basically Randy's like "I'm going to do sports not theatre" and Mark was just "🙂🙂🙂I need to lie down and talk to my therapist 🙂🙂🙂". ➢ how it unpacked lust vs love + confused teen feels + safe sex + being genuine vs masking ➢ AND (I'm so glad it did this) it talked about how it is NOT lying or fake or wrong to be closeted for your own safety. This is an important message for teens how aren't safe to come out. One thing I would love is a little more emotion in the characters/writing to deepen the characters, but that's a personal stylistic preference for me. Every time YA gets more books like this, the world becomes a better place. Truuuuue. It's for queer teens, but I also think straight kids should be reading this. It's inclusive and loving. It's also so fun! Glitzy and glamorous, and about exploring different parts of yourself and deciding what's a stereotype, what's you, and what's a mask for the world. "I think it's weak willed to be a stereotype. Being what everyone tells you you should be. I think being more...masculine, I guess, is strength. I think it's better." "That's ridiculous," I say. "My team just kicked your ass in high femme." "He said it because of what his parents have said to him for years though." "That's not an excuse," Mark says. "Terrible things happening to you are never an excuse to do them to someone else. But maybe it's a reason to forgive him...if he's willing to apologize. And change."

  5. 4 out of 5

    love, tappkalina

    3.75 ✰ I bet y'all thought I will hate this based on my updates, and to be honest, I did too for a while, but it was really good, actually. This book twisted my every braincells. You know those morally gray characters - no one is fully right but everyone has a point? The premise of this book is that Hudson dates only butch boys so Randy pretends to be one. It irritated me in so many levels at first because if you act different to make someone fall in love with you, they won't really fall in love w 3.75 ✰ I bet y'all thought I will hate this based on my updates, and to be honest, I did too for a while, but it was really good, actually. This book twisted my every braincells. You know those morally gray characters - no one is fully right but everyone has a point? The premise of this book is that Hudson dates only butch boys so Randy pretends to be one. It irritated me in so many levels at first because if you act different to make someone fall in love with you, they won't really fall in love with you. Also, why would you do that to someone? I just couldn't get behind this. Fortunately, no one agreed with him and his best friend often called him out on his bullshit. "We fall in love." "And then what? You keep being Del the rest of your life?" "Once we're in love, I'll gradually turn back into Randy." "The guy he didn't fall in love with." But at the same time I couldn't feel sorry for Hudson. He was introduced as the nicest person alive but he was kinda jerk at times. Not to Randy, but still it was not ok. Really not okay. Even if it was because of his parents. I don't want to be that bitch who brings up the a greater good, but this plan actually served it right. It turned out that even if Randy missed the way he lived and the things he did before, he explored a new side of himself. Yes, it was not nice if you see it through Hudson's eyes, but he wasn't a saint either and Randy saved his life with this. Maybe not literally, but he made it less painful for him. I would pay an embarassing amount of money to be able to go to a camp like this. It was everything. Also, a sex positive camp? This is some next level shit! I don't mean it like they encouraged them to have sex, but they knew some of them will have it anyways, so there was always lube and condom everyone could grab. Better be safe and prepared than hiding and making enormous mistakes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    Lev Rosen is the king of writing books that queer teens need to read. Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) was educational in the funnest way possible, without ever getting preachy, and I had high hopes for Camp to be similar. This book broke my heart right away, because it introduces us to Randy, who feels like he has to change who he is to be seen as attractive by the boy he crushes on. He knows that this boy is only into masculine guys, so Randy tries to adopt an alter ego who’s very masculine. Wi Lev Rosen is the king of writing books that queer teens need to read. Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) was educational in the funnest way possible, without ever getting preachy, and I had high hopes for Camp to be similar. This book broke my heart right away, because it introduces us to Randy, who feels like he has to change who he is to be seen as attractive by the boy he crushes on. He knows that this boy is only into masculine guys, so Randy tries to adopt an alter ego who’s very masculine. With this, the book delves into something I think a lot of queer people struggle with, and that’s gender expectations. Randy has to work through a lot of internalized shit throughout the book, stuff that’s rooted in toxic masculinity and internalized homophobia and the expectations that gay culture puts on guys (although of course everyone is affected by toxic masculinity), like how they all have to be a certain type of gay guy based on their appearance and the way they act, and how there’s a big focus on finding a certain type of person based on traits and appearance rather than just a person you find attractive and click with. Overall, I’m so impressed with how much the author delved into gay culture and the toxic aspects of it. I love how he shows that there’s so many different ways to be queer, and by that, he’s consciously created a safe space for all queer people, including, for instance, people on the asexual and aromantic spectrum and non-binary people. I really appreciate that, as an aroace non-binary person. Something I especially loved is how no one interferes with the ways Randy changes. They do voice their concerns, but in a very respectful way. No one oversteps. And they all seem to respect that this is ultimately something Randy needs to figure out himself. Right from the very first page, this book did so many important things. I love how it destroyed toxic masculinity in such a kind and nuanced way, without villanizing Hudson, the love interest. Because there are a lot of queer kids like Hudson and they deserve to be treated kindly. They’re not bad people because of internalized bullshit they never asked for. Read this book for a love letter to the queer community in all its diversity. There’s just something so special about reading about a queer summer camp for teens if you consider that a lot of the time, these types of camps would be conversion camps, rather than the safe space Rosen created in the pages of this book. Camp Outland is a big “fuck you” to those. The teens here get a four week vacation from any kind of homophobia and transphobia in their lives, they get queer camp councillors who introduce them into queer culture and queer history, and everything a queer teen would need to know, on top of giving them a space where they can meet other teens like them. Rep: gay MC, gay Korean-American love interest, gay side characters, demisexual lesbian side character, several transgender side characters, non-binary side character, bisexual side character, several queer side characters of colour CWs: toxic masculinity, (internalized) homophobia

  7. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    3.5 stars. Should you go changing to try and please someone else? That question is at the core of Camp , a new YA novel from L.C. Rosen (aka Lev Rosen). This is an adorable yet thought-provoking look at gender and sexual identity and the prejudices and misconceptions that exist even among LBGTQ+ people at times. It’s also a powerful statement about loving yourself for who you are. Ever since he was 12, Randy has loved to go to Camp Outland each summer. A camp for queer teens, it gives him and hi 3.5 stars. Should you go changing to try and please someone else? That question is at the core of Camp , a new YA novel from L.C. Rosen (aka Lev Rosen). This is an adorable yet thought-provoking look at gender and sexual identity and the prejudices and misconceptions that exist even among LBGTQ+ people at times. It’s also a powerful statement about loving yourself for who you are. Ever since he was 12, Randy has loved to go to Camp Outland each summer. A camp for queer teens, it gives him and his friends the opportunity to be their authentic selves—whether that’s competing for a role in the summer musical or playing sports, painting their nails and wearing whatever they’d like, and even hooking up with their crushes. Randy has had a serious crush on Hudson, the dreamiest camper, for years. But Hudson only likes masculine-acting bros, and drama- and nail polish-loving Randy doesn’t fit the bill. Plus Hudson usually hooks up with guys and leaves them quickly thereafter, but Randy is determined to have an LTR with him. So this summer, now that’s he’s 16, Randy has decided to change things up. He’s shaved his head, bulked up, and is calling himself “Del.” He’s giving up drama, nail polish, and all of the things he’s loved about camp, but he believes that if he can get Hudson to fall for him, it will all be worth it. His friends go along even if they don't agree with his plan. But as they grow closer, Randy wonders just how much he needs to change for love. Is their relationship even as solid as he hopes it is if he has to lie about who he is? And why is Hudson so insistent only on "masc4masc"? This was an adorable book that raised some weighty issues. Boy, do I wish that a camp like this existed when I was a teenager! I thought the story dragged a little bit, but I really enjoyed it and it made me think. Another enjoyable book for my month of Pride Reads! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    ★★★★✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4) Because last year I read, and really enjoyed, Lev A.C. Rosen's Jack of Hearts, I decided to give Camp a go, even if I was worried that the whole premise of 'pretending to be different to make someone fall in love with you' would be cring-y. Within a few pages however I was rooting for Randy Kapplehoff's and his rather theatrical 'plan'. First off: I don't think I've ever read a book with some many queer character. Gay, non-binary, ace, transgender, demisexual...th ★★★★✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4) Because last year I read, and really enjoyed, Lev A.C. Rosen's Jack of Hearts, I decided to give Camp a go, even if I was worried that the whole premise of 'pretending to be different to make someone fall in love with you' would be cring-y. Within a few pages however I was rooting for Randy Kapplehoff's and his rather theatrical 'plan'. First off: I don't think I've ever read a book with some many queer character. Gay, non-binary, ace, transgender, demisexual...this is a wonderfully inclusive novel. Hurray! While Camp follows a somewhat clichéd plot—not-so-popular-theatre kid has a glow-up and tries to make the hot guy fall for him—the setting (summer camp), characters, and the humour make this novel worth a read. While I definitely felt the chemistry between Randy (Del) and Hudson (their flirting was on point), I simply adored Randy's friendships. George and Ashleigh makes such an impact on Randy's story. And although they are there to help him, advise him, and occasionally make fun of him, they are also given their own arcs. While there are quite a few silly moments here and there, for the most part I found Camp to be hilarious. Rosen portrays the highs and lows of being a teenager. He really allows his characters to act like teens: they make mistakes, they are awkward, they are unsure of who they and who they want to be. Rosen also manages to include thought-provoking discussions about toxic masculinity and gender conformities. Rosen also manages to make minor characters, such as Mark, stand out. They all have distinctive personalities and different ways of expressing their identity. Rosen's depiction of sex is so refreshingly frank (it would be nice if YA books stopped treating sex as taboo). The only thing I didn’t particularly like were the stars/galaxy metaphors (Randy feels ‘filled with stars’ one too many times). Camp is a funny read perfect for the summer. Randy's absorbing narration made me all the more invested in his story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Boston

    3.5 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    July 02, 2020: Camp is an incredible queer story with a diverse ensemble of characters who collectively have fun while destroying toxic masculinity, making epic friendships, and growing to be their most authentic self. It's both insightful and educational through its aim to break stereotypes around LGBTQIA+ as well as appreciate them if that's what one really connects to as a personality. [A lengthy af review will follow one day.] June 04, 2020: This is one of the best queer books EVER. May 3, 20 July 02, 2020: Camp is an incredible queer story with a diverse ensemble of characters who collectively have fun while destroying toxic masculinity, making epic friendships, and growing to be their most authentic self. It's both insightful and educational through its aim to break stereotypes around LGBTQIA+ as well as appreciate them if that's what one really connects to as a personality. [A lengthy af review will follow one day.] June 04, 2020: This is one of the best queer books EVER. May 3, 2020: I'm so ready to read about a summer camp for queer teens. I received a digital copy of this via Netgalley so thank you, Penguin Random House UK Children's! April 16, 2020: What's not to be excited about a queer book that promises to destroy toxic masculinity?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 Stars Full review HERE As for Jack of Hearts, Rosen's previous book, I had much fun reading this novel! I enjoyed the setting, a camp where queer kids are free to be and express themselves how they want, it was such a nice thing to read and I very much appreciated every single counselor that helped and guided the kids, they were amazing. The main themes of this book were very interesting, esp The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 Stars Full review HERE As for Jack of Hearts, Rosen's previous book, I had much fun reading this novel! I enjoyed the setting, a camp where queer kids are free to be and express themselves how they want, it was such a nice thing to read and I very much appreciated every single counselor that helped and guided the kids, they were amazing. The main themes of this book were very interesting, especially for a young adult novel. The book deals with toxic masculinity, gender-bending and gender roles and it does so in a clear, but also very effective way. I liked how everything was explained properly, also to the characters that didn't understand it at first. So, why am I giving this 3 stars? Because I didn't like the main couple and I'm so sad about this! I wanted to like them, but something was just off. I was glad about the ending, but I think it was way too quick how everything was resolved. I think that some things just take a little more time, it felt a bit rushed to me. If you're looking for a summery read about queer kids who get to come out of their shell and be their true selves, this is definitely the book for you!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dahlia

    Oh oh oh I adored so many things about this that I'm overwhelmed just trying to talk about it. My appreciation for Lev Rosen as a queer YA author is just through the freaking roof. As with JACK, I really, really appreciate the conversations this book has, the identities it respects, the sexual transparency, and the general love letter-ness to queer spaces.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Finitha Jose

    Is this one of my regular reads? Absolutely not. Changing yourself to get the man (or woman) is something abhorrent in my dictionary. Someone who is not able to love oneself can never find love. So why did I bother reading this novel? Because I wanted to tame this judgemental devil living inside me. As one of the counsellors says in the story, everyone is allowed to make their own mistakes. Isn't that the way we learn? 'Camp' offers a unique take on an oft used plotline with Camp Outland as its Is this one of my regular reads? Absolutely not. Changing yourself to get the man (or woman) is something abhorrent in my dictionary. Someone who is not able to love oneself can never find love. So why did I bother reading this novel? Because I wanted to tame this judgemental devil living inside me. As one of the counsellors says in the story, everyone is allowed to make their own mistakes. Isn't that the way we learn? 'Camp' offers a unique take on an oft used plotline with Camp Outland as its setting. It is not every day we get to read a book with an all queer cast and that makes this all the more special. Sure, it is not possible to cover every aspect of the queer spectrum, but considering the length of the novel, the author has done a remarkable job in giving representation to a wide variety of gender orientations. This camp for queer teens is nothing short of paradise. The main story, as you have guessed already, is the love story between Randy and Hudson. Randy is determined to win over Hudson this year and thus his complete makeover as Del, a masc completely different from the femme personality of Randy. Well, we don't need an oracle to know where his crazy plan will lead to but what matters is the changes that come through this performance. Simple though it may seem the novel addresses a series of issues a queer teen faces from his own family and also from the society. Seeing that we don't have that many great books in the LGBT genre, this book, without a doubt, is a rare gem. A pure delight from start to finish!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    I'm crying but like in a cool way

  15. 5 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Maša Tome I want to start this review by saying: wow! I read Rosen’s Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) last year and loved it to bits, so I jumped at the chance to read his latest novel! Camp follows Randall Kapplehoff who spends his summers at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens, where he and the friends he made during the years at the camp can be themselves without judgement or weird looks. Randy loves musicals, nail polish, and colourful clothe Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Maša Tome I want to start this review by saying: wow! I read Rosen’s Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) last year and loved it to bits, so I jumped at the chance to read his latest novel! Camp follows Randall Kapplehoff who spends his summers at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens, where he and the friends he made during the years at the camp can be themselves without judgement or weird looks. Randy loves musicals, nail polish, and colourful clothes – but his heart belongs to ‘masc4masc’ Hudson. This year, Randy has a fail-safe plan ready and reinvents himself by becoming ‘Del’, a sporty guy who draws Hudson’s attention right away. Will Randy’s plan work and make Hudson fall for him? And can they really fall in love when both ‘Del and Hudson are keeping secrets? Now I’m going to try to be as coherent as possible and not simply scream at you to read this book because of its important themes, fluffy love story, and Rosen’s funny and relatable writing. *deep breath* We need books like Camp, books that bring those issues to light, make us face them, and talk about them! So go pick up Camp as soon as it hits shelves, and buy a few more copies for your friends, your neighbour, your delivery driver, and everyone in between. Queer or not, we need books like this one, we need to read them, and take them to heart. “She said I should be proud of myself for knowing who I was, and what I wanted, and to never let anyone tell me anything about me that made me happy was something to be ashamed of, I’ve tried to keep that in mind.” Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  16. 5 out of 5

    dreamthieves

    All of this: Yes. Yes yes and another yes. If that book isn’t smashing toxic masculinity then what is? Am I going to recommend this book to every person that looks in my direction? One hundred percent. Do I want to go to a queer camp for 4 weeks and feel as safe and as good as they do? We have a yes again. This book made me feel so okay and so warm, that I wanna read it again as soon as it’s published.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish // stan shea couleé

    I'm also a book blogger: Vee_Bookish (ARC provided by NetGalley, my opinions are unbiased.) Spoilery content warning - (view spoiler)[The last 10 percent of this book features a pretty graphic description of blow jobs and anal sex, so while the cover looks middle grade I'd recommend it for 16+ (hide spoiler)] I didn't initially enjoy this book, but it grew on me towards the end. I didn't fully understand why Randy wanted to change so much for a guy he only saw 4 weeks of the year, a guy who was jus I'm also a book blogger: Vee_Bookish (ARC provided by NetGalley, my opinions are unbiased.) Spoilery content warning - (view spoiler)[The last 10 percent of this book features a pretty graphic description of blow jobs and anal sex, so while the cover looks middle grade I'd recommend it for 16+ (hide spoiler)] I didn't initially enjoy this book, but it grew on me towards the end. I didn't fully understand why Randy wanted to change so much for a guy he only saw 4 weeks of the year, a guy who was just your typical jock, really. I do have to note that I would have no clue who Randy was outside the camp, I can't recall him or many of the others talking about his school life, friends, etc, which seemed strange. I really love the idea of a LGBT camp, and seeing Non Binary, Asexual and Aromantic be represented (and the terms ace and aro used) without any explanation for the cis people made me so freaking happy. All of the counselors were fun people, and I especially liked Mark who needed to talk to his therapist a lot. However with many of the campers, Randy included, being 16 or younger, I did question how okay they were with everyone having sex. There's a good discussion about what it means for different people to be LGBT, and the expectations that cis/het people have. Toxic Masculinity is a huge theme in this story too, and seeing Hudson and Randy find themselves, trying new things and finding a balance of what they're comfortable with and enjoy together was the strongest part of the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leo

    This is one of those books everyone needs to read. Toxic masculinity affects everyone, and I’m looking forward to see this book shattering it into a thousand little glittery pieces.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Two things: this summer camp is wonderful and I need it to be a real place desperately and I am devastated I finished this book, I need many, many sequels.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Fun, campy, queer rom-com! It's refreshing to read something entirely made of queer characters in a queer space. Rosen's sophomore YA novel takes down toxic masculinity and what it means to accept yourself as you are. You DO need to buy into the concept immediately, since it dives in quickly, but it's worth the ride.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    A fun, fluffy, and very queer contemporary YA. Either you are immediately sold on the concept or it isn't for you. As someone who doesn't always enjoy books where you know how it'll end from the first page, I was surprised at how much I was able to just let loose and have fun with this. CAMP joins Rosen's previous book JACK OF HEARTS as a subset of LGBTQ+ YA that is honest and realistic about sex, gender, and relationships while also being the book equivalent of cotton candy. Newly queer kids wi A fun, fluffy, and very queer contemporary YA. Either you are immediately sold on the concept or it isn't for you. As someone who doesn't always enjoy books where you know how it'll end from the first page, I was surprised at how much I was able to just let loose and have fun with this. CAMP joins Rosen's previous book JACK OF HEARTS as a subset of LGBTQ+ YA that is honest and realistic about sex, gender, and relationships while also being the book equivalent of cotton candy. Newly queer kids will learn a lot about the queer experience without it feeling preachy or patronizing. Here Rosen takes on toxic masculinity/femmephobia in gay men, the kind of nuance that we rarely get good discourse on among adults. (Look, we gays are great but we are still working on understanding just how broad the queer world is after being forced to put it in tiny little buckets for so long.) It's a worthy subject and for the most part Rosen does well with it. My critiques are very narrow, and mostly are what I wish Rosen had done more of. He's so good at this that I want him to set his sights wider. One character notes early on the typical refrain of white cis gay men that refuses to accept anyone who is not an attractive, abled, white, thin, attractive, gay man. Rosen is zeroing in on just a few little parts of it, and I couldn't help but feel a little frustrated that everyone at Queer Camp is not just aware of Randy/Del because of his masc makeover, but also because he's gone from a chubby kid to a "hot" one. There's so much more to dive into in terms of body image, racism, and more, but perhaps we will get that in a future book. My other note is that while Rosen tries to create a camp that includes a diverse set of identities and it's a worthy goal, it ends up feeling a little tokenizing. Here is your one trans woman, your one trans guy, your one nonbinary person, your one ace/aro person, a couple lesbians, and then a pile of gay guys. We are told over and over again that there is no one way to be gay, but the book seems to present only two ways to be gay: masc jocks and flamboyant theater kids. With a more fully drawn cast of characters, this could have been a 4-star book for me. If you are wondering, does CAMP the book pair well with CAMP the cult classic movie musical about a bunch of kids at theater camp? Yes, yes it does. I had the CAMP soundtrack stuck in my head the entire time, and in a lot of ways Hudson is a gay version of Vlad, Ashleigh is a lesbian Ellen, etc etc.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I don't know quite how I felt about this one. I suspect it might have landed a little more in the feels if I was queer teen, but a straight, cisgender thirtysomething woman, I had a hard time empathizing with the main character, a gay teen who gives himself a more "masculine" makeover in order to appeal more to his summer camp crush who was, quite frankly, Not Worth It™. There's a lot of "Be True to Yourself" messaging in here that is certainly important, especially when it comes to queer teenag I don't know quite how I felt about this one. I suspect it might have landed a little more in the feels if I was queer teen, but a straight, cisgender thirtysomething woman, I had a hard time empathizing with the main character, a gay teen who gives himself a more "masculine" makeover in order to appeal more to his summer camp crush who was, quite frankly, Not Worth It™. There's a lot of "Be True to Yourself" messaging in here that is certainly important, especially when it comes to queer teenagers, but it was hard for me to feel invested in it when I thought that the love interest was a jerk. Then again, I'm not the target audience so my opinion is not the one that really matters. Though, I would be really curious to hear how this reads to any queer men out there who identify as more masculine than the protagonist.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elysian

    1.5 stars man. Just bc I am nice I went into this book thinking "wow, this sounds like a gay mess. That will be fun". Trust me, it was not. I was intrigued by the idea of a queer only summer camp. Personally, coming out and finding myself was a difficult journey for me. I am 18 now and still have all my stuff figured out. I would LOVED a gay summer camp as a kid. But this... this felt like a poly cult, where everybody had sex. Btw. This review could be a bit spoilery, because I hate this book and 1.5 stars man. Just bc I am nice I went into this book thinking "wow, this sounds like a gay mess. That will be fun". Trust me, it was not. I was intrigued by the idea of a queer only summer camp. Personally, coming out and finding myself was a difficult journey for me. I am 18 now and still have all my stuff figured out. I would LOVED a gay summer camp as a kid. But this... this felt like a poly cult, where everybody had sex. Btw. This review could be a bit spoilery, because I hate this book and at this point I stopped caring. My problems with this book: - Kandall, the MC I despised so much, GOT AWAY with EVERYTHING. He ignored and mistreated his friends for a dude AND told the dude nothing but lies are 'half truths', WHICH ARE STILL LIES!!! to make him fall in love with him. His friends are pissed at him. MORE than once, but somehow after some time they are just ok and deal with it? Like, the situation between him and his friends just fades away and never gets mentioned again? I assume they are still pissed at him, because that makes ME happy. - Okay, I really liked Hudson as a character and he deserved way better than Kandall. Kandall was selfish the whole time, just caring that he impresses Hudson and his 'plan' to make Hudson fall in love with him. That's never the start of a healthy relationship. BUT somehow everything is fine? Because Hudson has a traumatic past? - I do not wanna spoil Hudsons dramatic past, but lets say it is A LOT. and it makes him realize that he wants to be feminine too. SO he is suddenly ok with Kandall lying to him bc he loves him anyways after dating him for like two weeks? And they have sex. It is horrible. - NOBODY was single? Like tf? very tropey, but go on I guess. Like all the MCs in this book get a fuck buddy. Lovely. - Most of the sexual talk was unnecessary. I thought that the romance could at least be a bit wholesome, but NO. I have to read through scenes of two men rubbing their dicks against each other. God no. MY EYES are BURNING. Besides, it felt like all the those sexual scenes felt like out of a fanfic written by a 12 year old. (while they were actually written by a gay man. Congrats) - I NEED TO MENTION AGAIN HOW UNCOMFORTABLE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW HAIRY GEORGE'S ASS WAS. I get it. He is 16 and puberty is a thing, BUT I will be scared for life. Those conversations were unneeded and they were not funny or body positive at all, just sexual. - No offense, but one of the counselors is mentally unstable. I do not think he should be guarding or work with kids. In general, I do not like how 'sex positive' this camp is and nobody minding it. The age range of the camp is 12-18 years. Sorry, but this is disgusting. No 12 year old should have to witness to dudes fucking on the kickball field or whatever. The camp rules really lack thought and I wished the book would stay NSFW free, centering around queer friendships instead of trying to win a dude over. (Serious talk) If you liked this book, pls read this So, I love tearing books apart I hate, but please know that I am a queer person and I think in the LGBT community, we should ALL support each other, because we already have it hard enough. I do not think this book does 'defy' toxic masculinity or internalized homophobia. It portrays it wrong and makes it worse. I suffered from internalized homophobia all my life- growing up in a homophobic household and attending catholic private schools all my life. All this book is doing shaming people for being masculine and searching for a reason why they are in the first place. 1. Everybody makes fun out of Kandall for being butch. EVEN when he does it to win a guy over, MAYBE he want to try something new? 2. EVERYBODY in this camp thinks that being masculine = straight acting. That's not rue. That is damaging. Let people be who the fuck they want to be. 3. It is ok to be gay and not liking drag or musicals. I do not like them either. It is genuinely not my thing. Knowing nothing about it and not enjoying watching drag queen races does not make you less gay or straight acting. 4. It is NOT ok to think you are the superior gay bc you are masculine. It is NOT ok to think you are the superior gay bc you are feminine. 5. You should never call a fellow queer person a faggot. Don't. I swear I visit you and give you a lecture. 6. Do not assume just bc a person is portraying masculine that they are damaged and struggle with toxic masculinity and/or toxic masculinity. 7. NEVER make fun of someone just bc they love makeup and judging them for loving and being themselves. You do not wanna be judged either. *making a dramatic hand gesture* I think I am done here!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Triston

    Oh my gaaaaaawd😭😭😭 ABSOLUTE FAVE OF 2020. FULL REVIEW COMING SOON, I AM OBSESSED. THIS WAS AMAZING AND I AM SO GRATEFUL I GOT TO READ IT EARLY!! Edit: [Full Non-spoiler Review] TW: Minor reference and use of a homophobic slur word. So my rating for this is 6 out 5 stars, yes that is how good this book is! This book is officially released in the world on 28 May 2020, and I am grateful to have received an early copy! This book was phenomenal. Let's start with the characters, each and every one of the c Oh my gaaaaaawd😭😭😭 ABSOLUTE FAVE OF 2020. FULL REVIEW COMING SOON, I AM OBSESSED. THIS WAS AMAZING AND I AM SO GRATEFUL I GOT TO READ IT EARLY!! Edit: [Full Non-spoiler Review] TW: Minor reference and use of a homophobic slur word. So my rating for this is 6 out 5 stars, yes that is how good this book is! This book is officially released in the world on 28 May 2020, and I am grateful to have received an early copy! This book was phenomenal. Let's start with the characters, each and every one of the characters in this book were so unique and diverse and from different sides of the Queer spectrum, and I LOVED that! Randy/Del our lead, was so relatable in so many ways, but so was Ashleigh, George, Paz, and even Hudson, and yes I want to also say that Jordan, Montgomery, Brad, and Charity, even though they were minor characters. Even the camp counselors Connie and Mark had aspects of them that were relatable, if you are queer, you will most definitely find a character or multiple that you can relate to in this book, and that adds to the beauty, that this book can reach so many people! The theme of masculinity, toxic masculinity and gender expression in this book was, fan-freaking-tastic and a very necessary discussion and so so so important! This book is the type of book that was designed to deconstruct toxic masculinity!! I loved that we addressed masculinity, and stereotypes in this story, it was amazing!! Also, Lev Rosen much like in Jack of Hearts, includes sex-positive discussion around queer sex, and the way it is represented in this book, is so so so liberating and refreshing and I love that Lev does it in such a healthy way! I also loved the camp vibe, and oh eh gee I want to go to #CampOutland , I loved it so much, it had that typical summer camp feel and vibe, only waay better because of it's inclusivity and unapologetic queerness!!! This book was also laugh out loud funny, and OH MY GAWSH so ROMANTIC! THE QUEER ROMCOM YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE! I LOVED IT SO MUCH, AND CANNOT WAIT FOR IT TO BE OUT IN THE WORLD!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane (whatjanereads)

    Actual rating: 4-4,5 stars Hello, can I spend my summer in Camp Outland too? I‘m an adult already, but...it sounds so amazing?! 😂🙈 This entire book takes place over 4 weeks at a camp for queer youth. And I didn’t know they even existed until a few weeks ago! This was soo cute and funny, but also somehow educational (with little bits of queer history woven into the story every now and then) and sometimes also sad at the same time? I think it’s what makes the perfect mix in a YA book. It was super sup Actual rating: 4-4,5 stars Hello, can I spend my summer in Camp Outland too? I‘m an adult already, but...it sounds so amazing?! 😂🙈 This entire book takes place over 4 weeks at a camp for queer youth. And I didn’t know they even existed until a few weeks ago! This was soo cute and funny, but also somehow educational (with little bits of queer history woven into the story every now and then) and sometimes also sad at the same time? I think it’s what makes the perfect mix in a YA book. It was super super queer and I loved how every character was so special in their own way. There are so many ways to be queer and not simply one way. But every way possible is the RIGHT way! And this book showed exactly that and celebrates it! I also loved how it addressed toxic gender roles, especially toxic masculinity. Men can’t wear nail polish? Or wear eyeliner? Look at all the 80s Rock bands, did anybody ever call them names??! That’s why I was a little sad about the beginning of the book, when Randall felt the need to completely change his looks and behaviour for the boy he liked. But it turned out the be about so much more and was solved perfectly in the end. I have to admit that I hated the love interest for like 98% of the book. He was so lecturing and for me it felt like he was playing some kind of „player-bro-dude“ role all the time. Not a coincidence, I know now. I loved his character development throughout the book though and obviously came to like him at the very end. For me personally his change of character came a bit too fast and sudden though and I would have loved to see some slow changes in his thinking every now and then. The very ending got me so sad, but was also so close to reality and very important too. This book showed how important it is to be yourself and express yourself however you want to. But since all the kids in this book are under 18 it also talks about how sometimes it’s more important to stay safe, even if it means to hide a piece of yourself in some places and with certain people (e.g. parents, school). All in all I really liked this story. It felt like it was written about real teenagers and so sex positive. Teenagers do have sex, queer teenagers do have sex. It’s no secret and it’s normal. Better give teenagers a safe space and tools to have safe sex, because they will have it anyway! Also did you know there will be a movie adaption for this??! Can’t wait!!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna (RattleTheShelves)

    ***Thank you NetGalley for sending me an ARC!*** This was such a wholesome read. Seriously. Next to Hogwarts, Camp Outland might be my top fictional destination to visit. A month of being very queer, surrounded by only queer kids (and counsellors)? It's every dream come true. It's not a surprise that I've loved this book - I loved Rosen's debut, "Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts" and his short quarantine story on Twitter, so I knew I'd fall over the heels for this one, too and I'd been so excited f ***Thank you NetGalley for sending me an ARC!*** This was such a wholesome read. Seriously. Next to Hogwarts, Camp Outland might be my top fictional destination to visit. A month of being very queer, surrounded by only queer kids (and counsellors)? It's every dream come true. It's not a surprise that I've loved this book - I loved Rosen's debut, "Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts" and his short quarantine story on Twitter, so I knew I'd fall over the heels for this one, too and I'd been so excited for it from the moment I've heard about it. I'm so happy that it delivered! The romance was equal parts cute and smart. As always Rosen, managed to bring up and discuss and dismantle so many important and problematic parts of the queer culture. Even though the spotlight falls to the two gay boys, there are so many different "shades of queer", so many different identities covered in this book. And there was even an aro/ace cameo and even though it took only like a paragraph, it was absolutely nailed and made me feel so seen. One of my favourite things about Rosen's books is how sex-positive they are. Too often queer sex is tabooed (unless it's fetishised) and I feel it's so important to discuss it, especially in YA books. A lot of teenagers have sex and queer teenagers aren't an exception and it's so important to have positive representation out there. I also really appreciated the discussion of how it's not always safe to be completely, fabulously yourself and safety has to come first. Once again, I feel that it's a very important thing to put in a queer YA - there is so much pressure these days to come out and be "truly yourself," so it's an important reminder. Also, I'm so so so excited for the adaptation!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alexx

    Camp is a wonderfully queer YA novel that will teach us not only how to be ourselves, but also to never let anyone’s prejudice define us. And also to kick toxic masculinity to the curb! ~ First of all, Camp was funny and so wonderfully queer that I want to hold the physical copy in my hand and just hold it. The writing was good; it was light-hearted and funny, and was able to give the reader a personal connection to the main character. I have to say though, I struggled to like Randy, especially in Camp is a wonderfully queer YA novel that will teach us not only how to be ourselves, but also to never let anyone’s prejudice define us. And also to kick toxic masculinity to the curb! ~ First of all, Camp was funny and so wonderfully queer that I want to hold the physical copy in my hand and just hold it. The writing was good; it was light-hearted and funny, and was able to give the reader a personal connection to the main character. I have to say though, I struggled to like Randy, especially in the early parts of the book. There were so many things wrong with his “I’m-going-to-change-myself-and-make-Hudson-fall-in-love-plan”, and more often than not I wanted to shake him and tell him, “No, you don’t need to do this!“. I also didn’t like that he seemed to have forgotten about his friends in the midst of going with this plan. I was really rooting for him to get that character development. And he did, mostly. While Randy achieved character development, I still feel like it lacked. I was waiting for him to acknowledge some of his own faults/wrongdoings, but it didn’t exactly meet my expectations. I did love the other characters, though: George, Ashleigh, Paz, even Brad! I’ve been wary about Hudson since the first page (he likes only “straight-acting” guys, and I’m just appalled), but I did get to know him at the end of the book and he achieved character development, which was really nice. Despite a few shortcomings, I loved the core message that Camp was trying to send to the readers. At the very heart of this book is the idea that we should not hide our true selves and succumb to the faulty logic of those who are narrow-minded. This particularly applies to those who think masculine gay guys are better than those who are gender nonconforming. This toxic masculinity is so much more harmful than we realize, and I’m so glad the author chose to tackle this in the book, and in Randy and Hudson’s story. I also loved all the discussions about sexuality and the freedom of being queer depicted in the book. In a way, I felt like one of the characters, like I was at Camp Outland as well, and I could simply be me. Overall, Camp was such a great read and it’s such a necessary book tackling necessary issues within the queer community. ~ (This review was first published on Enthralled Bookworm as part of the Camp Blog Tour by The FFBC. Find me: Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    There are a number of things that this book is trying to achieve, unfortunately they all fell a bit flat for me. The characters (majority sixteen year olds) read like mouthpieces for online think pieces. I understand that the author was attempting to create an almost-utopia for LGBTQIAP+ teens and in doing so addressed many aspects of sexuality and gender, but it was very... forced. The whole thing was telltelltell, at no point did I feel like the author trusted me to make my own mind up about t There are a number of things that this book is trying to achieve, unfortunately they all fell a bit flat for me. The characters (majority sixteen year olds) read like mouthpieces for online think pieces. I understand that the author was attempting to create an almost-utopia for LGBTQIAP+ teens and in doing so addressed many aspects of sexuality and gender, but it was very... forced. The whole thing was telltelltell, at no point did I feel like the author trusted me to make my own mind up about the message of the story. Books about masculinity and the sometimes toxicity of masculinity, are important. And, I think there will be a number of people who get a lot out of the discussion here, but for me there just wasn't anything new being said. I've seen twitter threads with more nuance. I was also very confused about WHO this book was for? The set-up for the romance is done so in order to make a statement about identity and being yourself, but it's incredibly juvenile and it made me dislike the majority of the characters. I don't know many people who can get invested in a main character or a romance when the entire thing is based on a lie, especially when there is minimal grovelling. Yet, I was able to brush a lot of that off whilst I was reading because these characters were young teenagers, discovering things about themselves - we all did ridiculous things when we were sixteen. Then the tone changes towards the end of the book and we get some rather detailed and graphic sex scenes between the two protagonists. I don't mind sex scenes in YA, in fact I encourage it. Sex is part of growing up and people are way too puritanical about it in literature. However, the content bordered on adult/new adult, which really didn't marry up well with the way that the characters has been presented in the overall plot. Despite the way that the dialogue made them sound like thirty year olds , their actions were so naive and it made them read as a lot younger than sixteen. Maybe that was the point? Sixteen is a weird limbo age where you're kind of torn between being a child and being pulled into a more adult world, with adult choices and adult actions. If so, it wasn't executed very well. Thanks to Penguin Random House UK for the the advanced copy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    I had such a great time while reading CAMP! This book takes a look into self-acceptance and really smashes the concept of toxic masculinity. It explores the idea of changing or not changing yourself for someone else to love you as is. Its so nice to see gay coming-of-age that is joyous and not riddled with pain and trauma. It's great seeing a camp that CELEBRATES us instead of attempting to "fix" us. CAMP is a great queer rom-com that anyone could enjoy! 5 🌟

  30. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: homophobia I am here for the queer and I loved it! Camp features characters who are all queer at Camp Outland. And just for that fact alone, Camp felt almost instantly like such a safe space. At the same time, Camp deals with some emotional topics such as memories of homophobia, dealing with homophobia parents, and also this desire we have to try to be someone we aren't. Readers c (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: homophobia I am here for the queer and I loved it! Camp features characters who are all queer at Camp Outland. And just for that fact alone, Camp felt almost instantly like such a safe space. At the same time, Camp deals with some emotional topics such as memories of homophobia, dealing with homophobia parents, and also this desire we have to try to be someone we aren't. Readers can immediately empathize with Randy's desire to re-brand himself. To try to change who we are to be someone else for love, for family, for acceptance. And Rosen only capitalizes on this theme and reflects it in so many of the characters. This re-arranging of ourselves, the process of re-definition, the toll it takes, for our desires. Whatever it's motivated by, this want to be someone else. Watching Randy struggle with this, and the other characters, felt both relatable and endearing. Knowing I've been there and, to this day, still struggle with this same issue. The warring sides of ourselves that want to exist, want to find love and happiness, and relief. Can we really change ourselves and should we? full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/blog...

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