Lumberjanes: The Good Egg

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my review of these novels by clicking the links below:

Unicorn Power! | The Moon is Up

The Good Egg was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2018. It forms the third part of the Lumberjanes series, which focus on a group of young girls who have fantastical adventures while at summer camp. The series is based around the award-winning comic book of the same name and the previous instalments are titled Unicorn Power! (2017) and The Moon Is Up (2018). I would certainly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Following the good-spirited rivalry of the Galaxy Wars, the coordinators of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types have decided that the girls’ next task should be something that unites them. Enter the flamboyant Annabella Panache, resident drama instructor. Pairing up girls from different cabins, Miss Panache decides that each group will enact an elaborate retelling of a faery story. And she does not do anything by half.

While Ripley generally loves to sing and dance, she finds herself distracted. She has discovered a nest of giant eggs in the forest and has become particularly attached to the smallest of the bunch, which she names Eggie. When the other eggs hatch and leave Eggie alone, Ripley enlists Barney’s help to keep it safe until its parents return for it. Her other friends are so busy planning their play, they hardly notice that she’s gone.

However, things take a bad turn when Eggie is stolen by a cult of greedy egg thieves. Ripley is devastated by the loss and the worry turns her into a shadow of her former safe. It’s up to the other members of the Roanoke and Zodiac cabins to pull together and rescue Eggie and they don’t have long to do it. Eggie’s parents have found the camp, and they are not too happy that their child is missing…

Lumberjanes: The Good Egg is probably the strongest instalment of this series to date, but I would still recommend it most of all to people who are already familiar with the characters. I’ve talked about the Lumberjanes comic series several times now (for example – here), and my opinions on it have not changed. It really is one of my favourite comics for young readers of all time as it’s packed with strong and diverse female characters. While The Good Egg does stand on its own to a degree, it carries on roughly from where The Moon is Up left off and also makes reference to some things that happen in the comics. You will certainly enjoy it more if you’re at least vaguely familiar with the camp and its colourful occupants.

While I did think that the heavy references to different styles of theatre were a bit strange and made the novel hard to get into (how many ten-year-olds will really know what Butoh is?), the plot did flow a lot better than that of previous instalments. The narrative felt less clumsy, which I think is largely down to the fact that Tamaki made the decision this time to split up the cast.

While the main focus is naturally on Ripley and Eggie, there is also the subplot concerning the girls preparing for the play. The girls are then further split into two groups, as Mal and Molly have been placed into a different team than the rest of the cast. Due to this, the novel spent a lot less time flipping between the perspectives of all five girls, as chapters tended to focus on just one of the three groups. I felt that this helped to ground the the fast-paced and slightly surreal narrative.

The Good Egg also carried a nice message concerning the importance of listening to your friends and noticing when something is troubling them. It also served as a story of empowerment for Ripley, who has not yet been the main focus for one of the novels. As the youngest member of the group, it showed how Ripley was often perceived as being the baby by her friends (even unintentionally). The story proved that just because she was small, it did not mean that she was any less capable than her older friends.

The ending of the novel was very satisfying, allowing the girls to combine their talents to save the day. Unlike previous instalments of the series, The Good Egg had a pretty solid ending that did not leave a noticeable hook for the inevitable fourth instalment. It tied up all loose threads, ending in a wonderful climax where the girls (with the help of Eggie’s parents) managed to defeat the villains and restore peace to the camp. However, I was a bit disappointed that the play did not ultimately get a lot of focus. I was expecting this to be a lot more like the Galaxy Wars of The Moon is Up, which formed a major part of the novel’s final act. We didn’t even really see that much of Miss Panache – a character who was only introduced in this novel.

In terms of characterisation, The Good Egg does a fantastic job of developing both Ripley and Barney. The two of them make a really effective double-act, combining Barney’s intelligence and knack for observation with Ripley’s enthusiasm and energy. I also really liked the fact that Barney was given such a lot of page-time in this book. Although they have been name-dropped in previous instalments, I was pleased that The Good Egg promoted them to being a major character. Barney is the first non-binary character that I have ever encountered in a middle grade novel, and the book touches upon the importance of their chosen pro-noun in a positive and respectful way

Yet, unfortunately, the rest of the characters fade into the background. As this book is very much Ripley’s story, the other members of the Roanoke cabin don’t get so much to do. This is especially true of Mal and Molly, who both have a very passive role in the climax. The novel also continues to drop in characters that have a much larger role in the comics – such as Hes and Wren – despite the fact that they have not really been introduced in the novels.

Anyhow, I think that about covers everything. All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Good Egg. While it did still have its share of flaws, it was the best novel of the series to date and provided some fantastic character development for Ripley. I really can’t wait to find out what adventures the girls will have next.

Lumberjanes: The Good Egg can be purchased as a Hardback, eBook & Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Sobeks 2018 – Part 4 | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: Lumberjanes: Ghost Cabin | Arkham Reviews

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