I don’t even want to write this review because I like Noelle Stevenson so much, but I think “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” should have been a clue that Lumberjanes is just too much whimsy for me.
The Lumberjanes graphic novel series (which is still ongoing), created by Noelle Stevenson of Nimona fame (another book I didn’t enjoy as much as everyone around me seemed to) is about five kids attending a girl scout type summer camp, the supernatural mischief they get into, and the futile attempts of their cabin leader to keep everything normal. It’s clearly aimed toward younger readers, and gives girls a welcome array of body types, sexualities, and personalities to see themselves in. At least, I think it does. It was hard for me to get much of a handle on any of the Lumberjanes’ personalities at all in these two volumes. There’s the gremlin child who only speaks in ALL CAPS (Ripley), the one who likes science (Jo), the strong and girly one (April), the one with a hat (Molly), and the one with a mohawk (Mal). I jest, a tad, but the only character who felt real to me was Jen, their camp counsellor, a rule-obsessed, over-protective, skeptical nerd who probably would have enjoyed her space camp better, and wishes she wasn’t so boring. I loved Jen.
The plot itself is also pretty light. I’m all for adventure stories and clever puzzles, but the reader is never given a chance to solve most of the puzzles for themselves, and that’s no fun! Trying to avoid spoilers, one puzzle involves working out the meaning of a collection of numbers, but you aren’t allowed to see what the numbers actually are before Jo has it solved.
The artwork is great, however, and the colouring is fantastic.
As is often the case with me, I enjoyed the second volume, Friendship to the Max, more than the first, Beware the Kitten Holy, once I started to get more of a feel for the characters. I know the series is still going and am sure each of the girls gets more depth in upcoming issues. However, it seems that after the original first two volumes, the run was extended and different artists were used. That sort of inconsistency doesn’t appeal to me, so I’m happy to exit the series now with this self-contained two-parter, rather than keep reading in the hopes that the series gets better. I read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please in 2016, and I think about it all the time because it gave me the phrase “Good for her! Not for me.” And Lumberjanes is good for some people! But it’s not my thing.