Page 45 Review by Stephen
Generation Doubt: late-teen girls of so many shapes, sizes and temperaments navigating sex and uncertain friendships, as one within their midst seethes with psychosis. She's about to boil over.
Set on and around the Wet Moon College campus perilously close to the swamp, it's been building steadily for some time now, but this one is nerve-shredding. You're in constant fear for alone out alone late at night.
It wouldn't matter so much if Campbell hadn't mesmerised us into caring so deeply for Mara, Cleo, Audrey, Natalie, and even Trilby whom I singled out in the first volume as the least lovable of the lot. Hey, she's grown. They're moon-eyed and vulnerable, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and opening themselves up with wince-worthy candour on their internet blogs. I still don't know how anyone can live out their lives in so much detail online - even I have an internal editor - but Campbell nails the gaping chasm here between self-knowledge and self-guidance:
"And another thing I can't brush aside (maybe a private post would be better for this because it involves private stuff and people I know...)."
Yes, maybe it would! I mean, you're about to out your ex for having sex with a minor you were supposed to be babysitting! As ever, however, Campbell shows her protagonists thinking progressively and there's some serious contemplation about the issue's implications.
Sophie has also created a convincingly familiar (oh too familiar!) malcontent in Myrtle, head and shoulders sagging into her bloated body, lying, scheming, sulking and stewing in the poisonous juices of her own imagination; the single eye that glares so ferociously with self-righteous anger from under her lazy parting, as her poor girlfriend Cleo - always so concerned for everyone else's feelings - suffers the brunt of Myrtle's self-destructive rage.
On the other hand, Campbell's art is a magnificent tribute to the beauty of less conventional body forms when they house a heart of gold, and WET MOON was always streets ahead in her inclusivity of diverse characters of colour.
Also this volume: baseball, being walked in on whilst in / on the toilet, and a series of one-page sequential-art portraits as each member of the cast spends an evening alone. What do they get up to, individually, at night? A couple of eye-openers, there.
Lastly, against all odds, Trilby and her boyfriend Martin really do seem to have been making a healthy and loving nest for themselves in the most stable relationship here.