Thursday, March 6, 2014

Title:       I Have a Bad Feeling About This
Author:   Jeff Strand
Rating:   ★★★
Availability: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
*ARC received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for an honest review

I Have a Bad Feeling About This is pretty entertaining, although I think it's more YA than Children's, especially since the characters are already in their teens. The book is action-packed, with several male characters setting out for an adventure to 'toughen up'.

Everything 16-year-old Henry was dreading about survival camp turns out to be true—or even worse. The only thing to help get him through is his equally unathletic best friend Randy and the discovery of a girls' music camp just down the path. But they'll soon have a lot more than obnoxious "drill counselors" and too many push-ups to worry about. The owner of Strongwoods Survival Camp has taken out some loans with very dangerous men to keep himself afloat, and when a trio of them show up to collect, things go bad. Very bad. With a camp now full of armed killers, survival now has a whole new meaning for the campers...

Five teenager boys end up in the all-male Strongwoods Survival Camp, a fledgling camp where the counselor/trainer, Max, promises to make the boys toughen up and unafraid of anything. The five boys have different hang-ups, and I suppose you could call them wimpy, except for one particular kid, Erik, and they had to struggle through different "manly" things to avoid punishment. They had to learn to shoot arrows, shoot guns, make traps for hunting, and the like. Their antics and failures were very entertaining, and had me wishing I was there.

Going into the book, it was a little weird. I Have a Bad Feeling is a combination of the retelling of the past, what's going on in the future (a movie screening) and some survival tips. The movie screening largely featured a blogger who wanted to interview celebrities and who kept getting in their way, which was very confusing for me. I think that even without the Rad Rad blogger dude, the story would have still worked. And at the start of each chapter, there is a Wilderness Survival Tip, some of which are quite funny, and which I enjoyed reading.

One of the things I didn't like about the book is that there was a death which felt largely underplayed. It was like okay, he's dead, move along. It was too light, for a death scene and I wish there was more gravitas to it. Also, the book was part of the Children's section in Netgalley, when this is so not a children's book. There's guns, fighting, and violence, and even teenage kissing which is appropriate for YA but not Children's. Lastly, with the violence and other crazy activities the teens went through, and with Jackie, one of the campers, only thirteen years old when the story happened, shouldn't there have been some therapy sessions? Or if there were, it wasn't mentioned.

However, I liked that in the end, there indeed was character progression, especially with the main character, Henry. Maybe he still wouldn't eat a beetle, and he still couldn't make a trap for the life of him, and I'm betting his new girlfriend would beat him to all manly things (she reminded me of Penny from The Big Bang Theory - hello fellow BBT fans!), but he became less afraid of life and even had enough courage to ask out a girl.

All in all, I Have a Bad Feeling About This is an entertaining book for teens and up, and it got me hooked a few pages in, even with all the confusing timeline jumps.