Book: Nerd Camp (2011)
Author: Elissa Brent Weissman
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Basic Plot: Gabe is a nerd and proud of it… that is, until he meets his new stepbrother, Zack. Now, in order to seem cool, he has to hide that part of him, including the fact that his sleepaway camp is really a nerd camp! So when he writes home, Gabe only highlights the things that don’t make him sound quite so nerdy. How’s Zack to know, right?
1) I love how each chapter ends with Gabe’s list of “Things I Can Tell Zack” and “Things I Can’t Tell Zack”. These lists are all prefaced showing how Gabe is using the scientific method… “Problem: Am I a nerd who only has nerdy adventures? Hypothesis: No. Proof: (See list.)”
2) I like the friendship Gabe develops with the two boys at camp: Nikhil and Wesley. It was cute how the boys figure out an algorithm to predict when Color War will break (based on when it broke in past years). Yes, despite Gabe’s efforts not to be nerdy, he is indeed very nerdy!
3) Which brings me to Color War itself. This was a fun addition to the story. It brings in some activities that don’t involve a classroom full of nerds learning about rocket science. Like the Scavenger Hunt.
4) There’s a nice little celebrity cameo (from one of the nerdiest shows on the planet) that happens near the end. I won’t spoil it. It’s kind of fun, even if it’s unlikely.
5) The letters are a nice way to show how Gabe interacts differently with the different people back home… with his friends from school, his mom and dad, and of course with Zack.
6) The ending wraps things up quite nicely. I wasn’t really surprised as I figured the story would eventually lead to what does happen. (I won’t spoil it.)
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) The scenes with the lice! My head was itching the entire time!! Yuck.
2) The midnight canoe trip was a little disconcerting to my adult soul. It’s crazy how Gabe talks about Swallows and Amazons (one of my favourite books that contains a similar event!), but then, unlike how the Walkers and Blacketts get into big trouble with the grownups, Gabe doesn’t seem to learn any lesson from this dangerous activity. I didn’t really like that.
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – A fun look into the struggles of being nerdy; worrying what others will think about it. As a nerd myself (I’m more of a history nerd), I definitely empathized with Gabe!
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!