Secrets of Camp Whatever Vol. 1 by Chris Grine

Huge thank you to Oni Press and NetGalley for providing a review copy.

rating: 4 out of 5 🪁🪁🪁🪁

genre: young adult, graphic novel

content warnings: some bullying (frowned upon)

The cover and the art is pretty great throughout the series. This is a fully colored book which is always impresive to me, as that requires a lot of work and patience. The only thing that stood out to me is that we had quite a few old characters and most of them managed to have a character design that gave me the creeps, I do not know if this was intentional or not. The story managed to keep up the intrigue for the first half and it was fun trying to guess what was going on. I even felt a bit creeped out a few times.

We meet a family on their way to their new house, in the town where the Dad grew up. We learn that while the rest of the family will be busy moving in to the house, the older kid Willow will be off to a local summer camp. On their way they stop at a diner and the locals scare the kids by telling them that there are rumors about the summer camp: supernatural beings and cryptids are rumored to roam free around the island and a few years ago a camper even went missing. Despite this and the fact that the camp organizers seem shady as hell the parents still send their only daughter to camp. Willow is a spunky kid who has no problems antagonizing the bullies and almost getting in a fistfight even before they reach camp. The story follows Willow and her bunkmates as they uncover the secrets of camp and the mystery regarding the missing camper all those years ago. 

Willow is also a representation for kids who need to wear hearing aids. There was a brief part where her batteries died and the comic highlighted this by the conversation balloons appearing blank and the kids using sign language with her. It was a really awesome and creative way to express her situation

Buy on Amazon / Kindle available

The book on Goodreads

This review on Goodreads

Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell

I did not really know about the Runaways until the Hulu TV show dropped out of nowhere. It was amazing, I absolutely fell in love with them and after the show ended I consoled myself with the fact that there is gonna be a comic about them at least.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨

Genre: graphic novel, young adult, superheros, Marvel, LGBTQIA+

Content warnings: some superhero fights but nothing serious, character deaths mentioned

The comic is kind of a sequel to the old Runaways comics, they reference old adventures in the story and old friends. Now, in the comics they are actually more involved in Marvel business, the kids knew the Avengers and some other superheroes while the tv show was more of a stand alone.

The story is easy to pick up without reading the original comics, as I didn’t read the old run either. I was excited for Rainbow Rowell since I absolutely loved her Carry On book. Sadly, I found that I prefer her novel writings instead of comics, there is just too much narration in the comic for me. And while I love that in books, it felt out of place for me in a comic – or maybe I am just not all that used to american style comics. I wished we had more character interactions instead of things beings narrated.

Other than that the story is enjoyable and I had a lot of fun. Kris Anka’s art and character designs are wonderful especially for Nico and Karolina. The plot does pick up a better pace in the later volumes. 

I wish there was more focus on friendships and the group working together and not just on relationship drama. Nico and Karolina getting together was very sudden, Karolina barely just broke up with her girlfriend. They are my favorite pair tho so I am not gonna complain. The thing with Gert and Chase and age differences due to time travel is just weird, let them be friends and leave it at that.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges

Huge thank you for Oni Press and NetGalley for granting me this ARC.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

Genres: graphic novel, LGBTQIA+

Content warnings
death mentioned but not shown, gender dysphoria, sexism (it is very frowned upon)

Y’all, I loved every minute of this book. Just by looking at the indie art style I knew I would like this. One of the authors worked on Lumberjanes, which I have not read yet, but heard great things about. I also just love the title. Based on these two I expected something good and feminist and possibly LGBTQIA+ and I was not disappointed.

The inner design sports a three colored flag-like set up, but I am unsure what these colors mean. It is closest to the trans flag, but this one has dark blue next to the pink and white-ish color. If this is symbolism I guess that is kinda cool but it definetely went over my head.

I love the character designs and the comic was very enjoyable. I felt that sometimes the backgrounds were a bit rushed, but I was happy with the art overall.

The plot
Ash is a lonely kid, who’s mom disappeared a few years ago. One day Ash sits next to the school’s tiny Pride Club at the cafeteria and ends up making friends with the members. Promptly joining them for the next club meeting. This was an adorable set up, the kids having fun and painting each other’s nails. Ash wanting to join in simply because it looks like fun. Later on, Ash invites the gang over to their house and shows them the shed where Ash’s mom left behind a treasure trove: books, art, costumes all made for an imaginary world, *looks at smudged handwriting*: T*tris. No, wait let me try again, Kore.. a, no, wait, it’s called Koretris actually.
The club is delighted by the idea of a magical land that only welcomes girls, regardless of your species. They get into a bit of roleplaying when suddenly, the magic spell written by Ash’s mom turns out to be real – and transports them all to Koretris. This is where their magical quest starts and among other things Ash has to fight the expectations everyone has of them. 
I am using they/them pronouns for Ash in this review in an attempt to not sound too spoilery. As the blurbs promised this book is very much about gender and discovering who and what can decide your gender at the end of the day.

I loved the flow of the book. We start with a short introduction written by the author that offers a bit of an explanation about gender. There is a short glossary at the end of the book too. This is a great way to introduce gender discussions for people who are not very informed about the topic. I appreciated that instead of the generic LGBT acronym throughout the book the more inclusive LGBTQIA+ was used.

The main characters

Ash, like the tree
I absolutely loved our main character, Ash, and it was awesome to be a part of their journey. Honestly they were way too chill, given the stuff they had to deal with. I loved learning more about their thoughts and feelings. I was glad they could find someone to trust who helped them come to terms with their feelings.

Eleanor, like the president
She was just the nicest person in the book. She cares a lot about her friends. No wonder Ash immediately liked her. She was warm and welcoming, always trying to help Ash but never overstepping. I wish we learned a bit more about her.

Junebug, the awesome
What a super chill character. Though we don’t learn a lot about Junebug during the story, I enjoyed their spontaineity.

Chloe, the feminist killjoy 
If the book had any downfall for me, it would be Chloe. From the first moment she has been hostile to Ash, for absolutely no reason. I get that informing others of sexist language they are using is important, but there is no reason to be rude about it if there is obviously no malicious intent. The joke about her being a “feminist killjoy” right after she bulldozes through the newest member of their pride club just felt super cringey.. I wish her behaviour towards Ash was reprimanded a bit.

Overall rating
I loved this book a lot. Gender was discussed in a natural way, focusing more on the feelings of the characters and not on the shiny glossary terms. There was a quest, magic and bonding time for the characters and it was just an overall uplifting read. I was surprised by the end reveal about Ash’s mom, not quite what I expected.
I felt like the whole of Koretris was a great commentary on how society views gender and how literally everyone has an opinion of what gender people should be and how they should act to fit this assigned role. As a cisgender woman (don’t worry there is a glossary that explains) I learned a lot about gender and how difficult it can be to learn your own preferences when literally everyone is shouting their own expectations at you.

Where to find:

The book at Goodreads 📚

Buy On Amazon

Dryad, Vol. 1 by Kurtis Wiebe, Justin Osterling

Rating ✨✨✨✨

Genre: graphic novel, fantasy, sci-fi, adult

Content warnings
some adult, sexy scenes were in the book and some violent fights

The cover and the art are gorgeous throughout the book. 

Where do I even start with this book.. These are not your usual medieval-fantasy elves living in a small town.. despite the fact that this is the exact setting we start with. We see Morgan and Yale trek through the wilderness with two tiny children – where they very candidly stop to change diapers. They arrive to their destination, a quaint village hidden by the woods and some ruins, where they raise their kids for the next ten or so years. We see them again when the twins, Griffon and Rana are teenagers loitering around town with their friends, pondering the possibility of magic existing in the world. A sudden attack on the town reveals the past Morgan and Yale has been hiding from their kids all their life: there is a much bigger world out there filled with technology they never even heard of.

In hopes of escaping, the family returns to the parent’s old turf and they try to salvage their life best they can while they try to hide from their past.

The setting was interesting, the typical elven medieval fantasy world mixed with sci-fi tech. I liked that the book had characters of different races just as part of natural diversity that occured in this world, without any kind of comment for cookie points. In it’s tone the story felt more on the sci-fi side for me, so I would probably recommend this to fans of sci-fi rather than fans of medieval fantasy.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon