By: Michael A. Greco
Publication Date: February 2018
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: February 15, 2019
As a reader who loves adventure, humor, thrills, and a life lesson all tied up into one, there is no better (nor more memorable) place to visit than the rainforest of Borneo. And if that sounds like an odd way to open a review, you’re wrong. Because there is a writer out there who took fingers to keyboard (most likely, because ‘pen and paper’ is out now) and wrote a fantastic book that includes some of the most oddly familiar characters imaginable.
Introducing the cast: We have a liar; a princess; a thief; a bully; and...a wuss. Sounds like a modern version of The Breakfast Club, yet they are just as familiar. Of course, these teens are not locked in a library on a Saturday; they have come from around the world in order to attend a leadership seminar titled: “Cuckoo Camp Personal Growthing Adventure to the End.” (No, ‘growthing’ is not a misspelling, and when they say “the End” they mean it literally.) The seminar’s focus is to teach these teens certain things while having fun in the jungle. Or, at least, that’s the original belief. They can witness the awesome landscape and design as well as admire the exotic wildlife that can’t be found in their own backyards. But instead of this being a cool memory they’ll take with them on their way home, it ends up being a moment in time where Tarzan is suddenly needed to appear and save lives.
It is December 23rd, even Canadian Nini Read is upset that she has another gift-less ten days in Borneo just because some moron in her high school called this a mentorship program. The only mentors, however, are an elderly chaperone who can’t drive, and the proprietor of the Cuckoo Camp that goes by the name of Fat Hus. Getting separated in the rain forest, this group sees the beauty transform into a horribly scary place filled with snakes that go airborne, primates that live up to their history of anger, and so much more. What may be the most strange is the fact that a wee bird—a cuckoo-shrike, to be exact—is somehow behind these strange attacks and shots of horror coming their way. Could something so small in stature be in charge of this mess? You will be amazed.
Every teen in the Cuckoo Colloquium must find a way to win the challenges set before them in order to escape the jungle and go back into the real world (which, let’s face it, is a jungle all its own). To escape death, each races through the pages with their own fears, strengths, skills, and determination. They each have their own annoying teenage behaviors, but they need these in order to get through this jungle labyrinth and get out on the other side alive.
Each reader will have a different outlook on this; each reader will have their own favorite character because they somehow identify with them. Personally, I root for the 14-year-old fat boy from Connecticut named Windy. Although YA’s will love this, adults will as well. The teenager inside each one of us does come alive while reading, bringing out the adventurous kid that lies dormant inside us all. Perhaps you’re Pinky Bell…the reformed thief? Hmmm. Maybe. This is about survival, friendship, oddities, and…my advice? Don’t miss out.
Quill says: The word “adventure” is used haphazardly too often, but this is an actual adventure that even Indiana Jones would enjoy.
To learn more about The Cuckoo Colloquium: Getting Lost to Find Yourself, please visit the author's website at: michaelandrewgreco.com