Margeaux Nall is just a few years older than the teenage narrator of her debut YA novel, “In the Camp,” but she has a knack for storytelling that belies her age.
The Fort Madison author, who will be a freshman at Iowa State University this fall, has penned a convincing and engaging adventure. While the book suffers from a few technical problems, the arc of its dystopian story is well crafted and the back story that underlies the tale is well thought out.
“In the Camp” is narrated by Matt Noralez, a young man trapped in a work camp with his father and 198 other humans.
The year is 2046, and the world has been taken over by elves who seek to return the planet to a natural, pre-technology state. Matt and the others are tasked with dismantling the town where they live. Matt’s life of drudgery is upended when, during an illicit late night jaunt, he and a friend find a mysterious girl unconscious in the camp.
As the story unfolds, the occasional awkward construction or unusual word choice crops up from time to time, but the fact that the book is narrated by a teenager whose education was interrupted by attacking elves provides Nall with some cover.
More noticeable is Nall’s tendency to drift in and out of the present tense in a narrative primarily related in the past tense. The tense troubles don’t derail the story, but they are distracting — perhaps all the more so because much YA fiction is, in fact, written in the present tense.
Still, Nall has clearly created the world of her novel with care, and her teenage characters, in particular, are believable.
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According to its cover, “In the Camp” is the first book in a trilogy, and one hopes the rigors of college will still allow Nall time to return to the story she has begun.