Books & Literature

Book Review: This Camp is Doomed: A Dennith Grange Misadventure, by Anna Zobel

MIDDLE YEARS: The story of a school camp which is not what was promised and has a mystery which needs to be solved.

This Camp is Doomed teaches us the importance of friendship, being brave, and the need to speak up and ask questions.
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Feature image credit: Puffin Books Australia

Melbourne author Anna Zobel, who began as an illustrator in 2019, quickly moved to writing her own books.

She began with two charming books for the younger reader about a tiny witch called Little Gem. Her third book, This Camp is Doomed, is for the slightly older middle age/young adult readers as the children in the novel are all 12 or 13, and the story is 309 pages long.

It is the story of a small group of 10 seventh-grade children heading off to school camp with their two teachers. Camp Buttress is run by the Klock family and none of the locals know much about the place. We discover very early on that nine different campsites were offered, but those on this camp are children who didn’t put their name down early enough, or were asked to choose a different camp by a teacher… The Art Retreat, International Invisibility Camp, and Circus Camp were way more popular.

We also discover that in this world, everyone has a special power which usually becomes evident at about 12 or 13 years of age. Things like shape shifting and premonitions. Those whose power has already become evident are still trying to learn how to control it. None of the children particularly want to be on a school camp for various reasons and nobody is really looking forward to it.

Once the children arrive, they discover Camp Buttress is extremely run-down, they are served very dodgy food, and things don’t feel quite right. They also have no phone reception. We are given clues along the way as to what might be happening, but probably not enough to guess the ending. It is certainly not predictable.

This Camp is Doomed is mostly told from the point of view of a teacher and two of the children, as well as being narrated by the author. Zobel has interspersed the story with the occasional line drawing and each chapter has a small illustration at the beginning with a clue as to what is coming.

Zobel has used a diversity of characters in this adventure/mystery. Each child and teacher have their own traits, both strengths and weaknesses. They also all have eccentricities, but every camper is likeable.

This Camp is Doomed moves along at a good pace and never really gets bogged down, but with the amount of information given, it feels like a second book may be written.

This Camp is Doomed teaches us the importance of friendship, being brave, and the need to speak up and ask questions.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Puffin Books Australia
Released: August 2023
RRP: $16.99

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