After nearly being raped by his mother’s new boyfriend, Davie finds himself on the run and living on the street. When he befriends another boy, Grey, the two of them find themselves heading to a special camp in the middle of nowhere after Davie finds out that someone from his past is gunning for him. Once they arrive, Davie realizes the place is safe and other boys have been invited there who also need the protection the Encampment offers. He eventually meets the three men who run the camp—Slade, the owner; Maddox, the leader and provider at the camp; and Ran, the security guy who keeps them all safe. It all seems like a fairly straightforward set-up, but behind the scenes there is a whole secret network running whose sole mission is to protect as many homeless kids as possible. When Davie is asked if he would be willing to help on one of the more dangerous missions, he discovers just how much the idea appeals to him—of course the fact that Vin, another camper, will be his partner doesn’t hurt either.
While there was great possibility with The Encampment, I found there were too many plot holes that kept this story from being a smoothly written mystery. I liked the little I found out about Davie and his past and despite his tough exterior, he was a very compassionate young man. The premise that his life was threatened by his mother’s ex coming after him in order to punish him for what happened between them was also fairly realistic and engaging. However, despite those strengths, the story seemed to wander and felt more like a series of scenes tied together with very few enriching or connective details.
For instance, I can hardly believe that in a camp as small as the one described, every young man wasn’t suspicious about the comings and goings surrounding Ran’s cabin. With so few people, it was hardly likely that at least most of the men didn’t suspect and know about the operation being run and that Ran was essentially training some guys to go on dangerous missions back in the city. Since this was not the only camp supported by Slade, the owner, I was pretty confused as to why he didn’t just parse out the guys who he and Maddox were simply sheltering to those other camps and keep the ones who were to become operatives at this one. In my opinion, that would have made all the hiding and secrets unnecessary and made the idea of a training camp much more realistic.
The other big issue I had was the lack of chemistry and abrupt onset of the relationship between Vin and Davie. Vin transforms from this standoffish, quiet lurker to wanting intimacy with Davie almost at the drop of the hat. One moment he’s barely communicating and the next he’s spilling his life story and getting into bed with Davie. There was a real lack of the necessary building of emotional investment that would have made this aspect of the story much more believable. When I add to that the rather quick resolve and set up of their future together, my head was spinning just a bit by novel’s end.
The Encampment by Edward Kendrick had all the pieces to make it a really fascinating story. With a bit more plot and character development, as well as some more backstory on who Slade was and exactly what kind of operation he was running, this could have been a great New Adult mystery.