Revamp Camp, Alice Zogg, Aventine Press, 2010, 220 pp
I have been remiss in not posting a review of Alice Zogg's latest mystery, released in Fall, 2010. Alice is a good friend of mine and I have read and reviewed all but the first of her six previous books. There lies the problem because what does a reviewer and blogger do when she is less than thrilled by her friend's latest book?
I have long admired Alice for her decision to bypass the whole publishing world in favor of enjoying the writing process without the stress of the traditional publishing world. She took up writing late in life and has a great deal of fun with it. Her strongest suit is plotting and she keeps that up in Revamp Camp. In subject matter she has broadened her scope considerably by taking on the world of a rehab facility for troubled teens including methods of therapy and questions of drug therapy to treat drug abuse. Her earlier books have been strong on vivid descriptions of the surroundings where the stories take place and in Revamp Camp she has taken this to a positively cinematic quality.
However I feel she may have stepped too far out of her zone or that she failed to do enough homework. The teen characters in the story and their dialogue show that the author has not spent much time with teens or listened to the ways they actually talk, both to each other and to adults. These characters are simply not believable and fail to come alive on the page. I was also unconvinced by the descriptions of Revamp Camp itself as a youth facility and the activities that went on there. After all, it is set in Solvang, CA and must have had to follow certain mental health standards. Perhaps her point is that some private rehab centers get away with gross improprieties but then that should have been included in the plot.
I met with Alice for lunch the other day, expressed my concerns, and got her blessing to write my review though it would not be wholly positive. I am happy to report that we are still friends! Whew. That was tough.
(Because she is a local author and the store never fails to support our local talent, Revamp Camp is available in paperback on the Mystery shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)