Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 97
A Cute and Captivating Camp Crush Confession
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
UPSTAGED is a middle grade graphic novel following Ash, a nonbinary camper in their final 6 weeks of camp. They are determined that this year they will confess their crush on fellow camper Ivy, but from the very first day things don’t go their way. The book is written at a level that middle schoolers will likely understand and enjoy, but that older audiences may also love.

What I Loved:
Between a sweet story and gorgeous illustrations, I was drawn into this story. I didn’t want to put the book down until I knew how it ended.

The characters in this story were distinctive and simplistic, but in a good way. We primarily follow Ash which I think was the best choice as following another character, even Ivy, would have taken away from the story. The story flourished by allowing Ash to take center stage and figure out their way. Ash’s main goal this summer is to tell Ivy about their crush and make the show run perfectly. Those are very simple objectives that I would expect a young teenager to have.

The side characters were all given unique styles and designs that allowed each of them to stand out from the others. Despite minimal interaction with the others, they didn’t feel flat.

Robin Easter did a great job at showing the complicated nature of crushes and the emotions that having such a crush can cause. Even during times when Ash was making poor decisions, it was relatable. They weren’t trying to be cruel just for the sake of being cruel, they were just overwhelmed by their emotions and unsure of how to react. It’s a familiar feeling for a lot of people.

The illustrations in this book were vibrant. They used a multitude of colors to give the characters and the camp life. The drawings were polished and neat looking. The illustrations also did a good job of capturing the emotions in the story whether by using facial expressions or by using the background to showcase additional details Ash wasn’t aware of.

Final Verdict:
UPSTAGED is a simple, but really sweet graphic novel. The casual inclusion of queer and nonbinary campers was a breath of fresh air. The story, while aimed at a middle-grade demographic, can appeal to an older demographic as well. The illustrations allow for an attractive experience where readers will be drawn into the story.

Featuring gorgeous and colorful illustrations as well as a sweet main character, UPSTAGED is a graphic novel not to be missed.
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