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Camp Valor

Review

Camp Valor

Widely known for penning AMERICAN SNIPER, Scott McEwen is now teaming up with Hof Williams in their first novel together, CAMP VALOR. Writing through a teenage point-of-view, they expose young adults to the harsh realities of the world through a heart-racing epic of espionage and survival.

After the disappearance of his father, Wyatt became a juvenile delinquent. Accidentally framed for a crime he did not commit, he is given a choice: face a 15-20 year imprisonment, or spend three months at a top-secret military camp, code name Camp Valor. At Camp Valor, juvenile delinquents are given a second chance, honing their skills to become specialized soldiers. However, this is not a game, and the consequences are life and death. The pressure to survive is high, and to successfully complete training without being sent back to jail will take everything and more than what Wyatt’s got. The new trainees must work harder than ever; looming far away but creeping ever closer is a threat unlike Camp Valor has faced before --- a sinisterly clever enemy that will stop at nothing to tear down the camp and everyone in it.

"Ewen’s and William’s gripping novel will have readers anxiously waiting for a sequel. Filled with action, CAMP VALOR is perfect for those who crave adventure and plot."

With excellent descriptive narrating, this novel is impossible to put down. Riveting action and suspenseful plots keep the reader constantly on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the characters will survive…or be the next victim. Tension builds as the authors switch between the plots of Wyatt and the villain, making the reader question how the characters and conflicts are related. Far from detracting from the timeline of the novel, dates and locations are included in every chapter, adding organization and a military-like theme to the novel. While the cliffhanger leaves many unanswered questions, the novel itself flows well and has a clever connection to the beginning and the end.

Wyatt’s introduction to Camp Valor is reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series. However, Wyatt soon discovers that this is not a typical fun summer camp; he and other trainees are indoctrinated into a battle-filled life, where the wrong choice could lead to death, and reliability on others is paramount. The characters learn more than military discipline though; motifs of sacrifice, integrity and honor are all abstract thoughts that become grizzly reality in this novel. These values, while noble, come at painstaking cost. By describing in detail the harsh bitterness after a battle, the authors expose the stark loss that leaves a permanent mark of guilt on survivors.

While mainly an action-based novel, there is a psychological twist with the plot of the villain. When actions meant to prevent and protect turn ugly, tragedy leads to the creation of an evil even greater than before. Though the imagery of the corruption of the villain is fascinating, it all seemed too unreal in the depiction of the villain transforming into a literal, parasitical monster. The same issue applies to all the evil-doers in this novel. While the protagonists are diverse with character arcs and personalities, the bad guys are all scum. The arch-enemies are monsters; twisted and diabolical characters who are inhuman in both physical and psychological traits. Though the all the time spent on describing the background of each villain is needed to clarify how all the puzzle pieces fit together, the villains were not developed as actual people.

McEwen and Williams help the reader to understand the situation of the teens through descriptive writing, background and the characters themselves. Drawing from his experience of working with at-risk youth, McEwen creates characters and a setting that is meaningful and believable. The diverse characters allow the reader to question what is weakness, strength and loyalty. Using the knowledge they gain, the protagonists become mature and defend themselves; through these characters, the authors demonstrate to readers how they can take control of their life in an ever-changing world. In the dedication, McEwen and Williams speak directly to kids, explaining that, “we have left you a difficult world, but can only hope we have given you the skills within it to survive and thrive.”

Ewen’s and William’s gripping novel will have readers anxiously waiting for a sequel. Filled with action, CAMP VALOR is perfect for those who crave adventure and plot. Whether under the covers at night or in broad daylight, the horrors of the novel are bone-chilling, the plot exciting, and the experience sure to inspire action in all those who read it.

Reviewed by Lauren C., Teen Board Member on July 24, 2018

Camp Valor
by Scott McEwen and Hof Williams