Campusland by Scott Johnston

Campusland: A Novel by [Johnston, Scott]

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: August 13th, 2019

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find Campusland: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

A tumultuous and often hilarious first novel about one year of insanity at the Ivy-like Devon University, a blissful bubble of elite students and the adults at their mercy.

Eph Russell is an English professor up for tenure. He may look and sound privileged, but Eph is right out of gun-rack, Bible-thumping rural Alabama. His beloved Devon, though, has become a place of warring tribes, and there are landmines waiting for Eph that he is unequipped to see. The cultural rules are changing fast.

Lulu Harris is an entitled freshman—er, firstyear—from Manhattan. Her singular ambition is to be a prominent socialite – an “It Girl.” While most would kill for a place at Devon, to her college is a dreary impediment. She is pleasantly surprised to find some people she can tolerate in the Fellingham Society, a group of self-professed campus monarchists. When things become socially difficult, Lulu is forced to re-channel her ambition in a most unexpected way – as a militant feminist. In the process, she and Eph will find their fates at odds.

Also in the mix is Red Wheeler, who is in his seventh year at Devon, and is carefully managing his credits to stay longer. As the alpha dog atop Devon’s progressive hierarchy, Red is the most “woke” guy on campus. But when his position is threatened, he must take measures.

All paths collide in a riotous climax. Campusland is a timely and gleeful skewering of the modern American campus and its tribal culture.

First Line:

“D’Arcy!” Milton cried from his office.

Campusland by Scott Johnston

My Review:

I was eager to read Campusland after reading the blurb. I thought that it was going to be a comedy mixed with today’s social issues. For the most part, that is what I got. But there were certain parts of Campusland where I felt the author was trying too hard. And it was those parts of the book that made it fall short for me.

Campusland is the story of Devon University and the year of upheavals that it endures. Caught in the middle of everything is Eph Russell, an English professor trying to make tenure. He is also trying to make it through the year. Lulu is a first-year who has aspirations to become an Instagram star and a socialite. Instead, she is attending Devon University and hating it. Red, in his seventh year at Devon, is the top social activist on campus. His activities have been limited to small protests. When he is threatened, Red takes drastic measures, which affect Eph and Lulu in ways that they can’t imagine. What will happen when all paths collide? What will happen?

Like I mentioned above, I was excited to read Campusland. I enjoy reading about social issues that are affecting today’s youths (holy crap, I sound so old here!!). The events that happen at Devon University have been ripped, for the most part, from the headlines. As I got into the book, though, I started to feel a disconnect from Campusland.

I did feel sorry for Eph. He was the real victim in this book. He got no say to defend himself from every accusation that was brought against him. Instead, there was an internal investigation. The internal investigation was biased because the woman running it was hell-bent on proving him guilty.

I couldn’t stand Lulu. From the moment she appeared in the book, I disliked her. She was a self-centered, spoiled brat with kleptomaniac tendencies. Everything she did was to promote her brand, which disgusted me later on in the book.

I also didn’t like Red. At first, he came across as one of those stoner activists. But as the book went on, he became more and more devious. His activism became almost militant. I was waiting with bated breath to see if he would leave the book.

I did enjoy seeing what a glimpse into what college is like today. When I was in college, there was nothing like the groups that were shown. Or if there was, they stayed well underground and out of the spotlight.

I was relieved when I finished Campusland. I thought that the author tried too hard to form the characters into stereotypes. While there was humor in the book, the humor felt forced. I will say that the ending of Campusland was interesting. But I didn’t think that the ending was appropriate. I can’t get into it but what Lulu and Red ended up going on to do didn’t make me happy.

I would give Campusland an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would not reread Campusland. I would not recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

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