Review: ‘Poison Oak Summer – Volume 1’ by AK Dawson

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MANY SPOILERS***

Poison Oak Summer (#1)I found it impossible to write this review without revealing a lot of the story, due to the number of plots in the book. I feel that I cannot properly review the book without giving away some secrets.

While it is awesome to start off a tale with a bang by means of a mystery, in this slim volume there are way too many mysteries. Lucy has decided to work at a summer camp for one month in the summer. Despite the fact that she has (1) never worked at a camp and (2) never been the the US, she is on her way to Northern California. Driven in a limo by a non-communicative driver, she is dropped off at Camp Aquinas with little ceremony. There she meets Steve, a hippy with questionable hygiene and nicotine-stained fingers. And no one else. It appears that she has arrived before the other counselors and campers.

Out for a walk, Lucy finds a boy floating in a river. To her horror, he appears to be dead. As she tries to get to him, his body floats free of an obstruction and disappears over a waterfall. She will never forget his face. Lucy runs back to camp and tells Steve what she has seen. Though he assures her that he will contact the police, she does not believe him.

A former prefect at her school in England, Lucy is all about rules. While she wasn’t a popular student, per se, she certainly had her share of friends she could relate to. So why wasn’t she fitting in at the camp? One reason is that, at Camp Aquinas, there are no rules. None of the other counselors seem to like her and she knows her three bratty charges hate her, since they told her to her face.

For a short book, it was certainly wordy. Like faucet’s on too high wordy. There was a lot of information repetition, like the author was signalling that we were supposed to remember this especially. Dad left the family, Lucy’s so smart, rules are important to Lucy, etc. Lots of back and forth between past and present.

Lucy is a stiff and reserved goody two shoes. She is the kind of girl that thinks everything needs to be structured in order to be fun. If I were at that camp, I would have run her underwear up the flagpole. The only other character that is fleshed out in any way is Steve, who runs the camp (though  he is in no way 3D). He is the complete opposite of Lucy: no rules, no schedules, no plans, no worries. He apparently has never heard of soap or that as the head of a summer camp for children, he should probably not be smoking pot. Oh, and here’s his surprise: Steve used to be a big-deal corporate lawyer! Oh the irony!

The rest of the characters are flat caricatures. The mean flirt, the hunky virgin who’s never kissed a girl, bratty campers, stupid country cops, beehived librarian. Knowing the question raised at the end of the book, that makes the behavior of the camp’s secondary characters very perplexing. Maybe that’s what was intended, another mystery? Then there’s this David Lucy keeps trying not to think about. That’s another mystery strung throughout the story. Let’s just say that he and Lucy are no longer together. There are at least five more mysteries that I can count (***MANY MANY SPOILERS***):

  • Why did Lucy’s Dad leave?
  • Why is Lucy at the camp?
  • What’s up with the teepee? What’s inside?
  • Woah. There’s the boy from the river. He’s alive and having fun at camp.
  • Wait. DAVID was supposed to be at camp?

Though I won’t reveal what Lucy discovers at the library (practically the only thing I don’t, I know), suffice it to say that there will be no answers to any of these mysteries in this volume.

2 of 5 Stars

Poison Oak Summer by AK Dawson was published April 24, 2012 by Unsung. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.

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