Friday, August 17, 2018

Pinky swears and and dead people

I for the life of me can't remember how Shawn Sarles's Campfire got recommended to me. I normally wouldn't have read it, since it has James Patterson's name attached to it and it's theoretically Young Adult, but it was there and I read it.

We basically have 3 families on a camping trip in the Colorado Rockies, even though they're all from California. Maddie is our protagonist, along with her former enemy now bestie Chelsea. Maddie's mom died in a fire prior to the start of the book.

Maddie has a crush on Caleb, their guide for the week. Chelsea has a crush on Maddie's older brother Charlie.

Under the light of the full moon, three stories get told around the campfire, one involving a trained bar that eats people, one involving a mental patient that kills people, and one involving the Mountain Men, who also kill people.

Then people in real life strt dying in a manner similar to the tales, leading to a chase down the mountain to safety, with everyone trying to figure out who's trying to kill them.

The relationships are ill defined, and trying to figure out who's actually involved with whom isn't particularly easy. The adults are really unsympathetic, and indeed, the children are just as bad. For that matter, the ending and the identity of the killers is straight out of the original Scream.

When I originally picked it up, I was expecting something more akin to a book I remember reading back in high school with a similar set up. (I don't remember the name; I do remember it was published under the Zebra imprint and the cover featured a campfire with a wolf rising from the smoke. That one concerned a group of campfire tales told by boy scouts that started coming true, and it turned out the weird kid had been promised to Satan by his mother in a book club meeting. I still think the book would have been better if it had focused on the bowling ball that had been promised to Satan at the same meeting.)

It's readable, but forgettable. One wishes the author had gone for an adult novel and had more of a chance to develop the characters and maybe better plotted out the relationships so that it had more depth than cardboard cut outs on popsicle sticks doing pantomime.