Tagline: “It’s the little camp of horrors!” (Will this make sense to any child under the age of, eh, 15, 16? No? OK. Carry on.)
Premise: 12-year-old* Billy heads off for his first summer at Camp Nightmoon, where there is no nurse, no phone, and no apparent attachments to the rest of civilization. Once there, his fellow campers begin mysteriously disappearing through a variety of bizarre circumstances (some kind of beast bite that swells up beyond belief, a canoe trip gone awry, et cetera). Billy keeps on trucking, trying to determine what the weirdness is behind Camp Nightmoon’s closed doors. In the end, when he is asked to shoot his friend Dawn with a tranquilizer dart, he refuses. Billy is then congratulated for being brave and doing the right thing and told he’s passed the test. What tests, you say? Well, see, Billy’s parents are scientists, and they’re off on an expedition to a relatively unexplored planet called earth. Billy had to take the tests in order to see if he was fit to come along, and what do you know? He is! So it’s time for a family trip to earth. Pretty great! I think I saw this on The Twilight Zone once.
Creepiness factor: Decent, considering the fact that the kid is asked to shoot someone with a tranquilizer dart. However, though the ending is unpredictable, it never feels as though this one’s going to remain unresolved.
Signature Stine moment: Some expertly divided sentence fragments in the midst of one those odd disappearances, on page 70:
The air hung hot and still.
No footsteps. No animal approaching.
Just Jay’s frightened moans and the pounding of my heart.”
Accuracy of title: Not quite 100%, but pretty good, at least 75% accurate. See, the camp’s called Camp Nightmoon, but they call it Camp Nightmare, and–you know what? Never mind. I think you get the idea.
Moral of the story: Do the right thing if you want to join your parents in their expedition to explore the life forms on earth.
Overall rating: 7/10. Despite how this recap reads, I really enjoyed Welcome to Camp Nightmare. It’s a fun little book with a few cool twists here and there and a hilarious one-two punch of an ending. Next up: The Ghost Next Door.
* I’m only going to let you know if a character isn’t 12 from now on. The likelihood of an 11-year-old or a young teen taking the protagonist role is extremely low.