Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Fog Diver

23215464Ross, Joel. The Fog Diver
May 26th 2015 by HarperCollins
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there

Chess is a tetherboy, someone who goes down into the Fog from an airship to scavenge for goods. The Fog is a mass of nanites gone bad. Used originally to clean the pollutants out of the atmosphere, the nanites began attacking humans and producing their own replacements years ago, leaving humans to try to survive on the tops of mountains where the nanites can't survive. Chess was born in the Fog, thanks to the experiments of the evil Kradoc who put Chess's mother into the Fog when she was giving birth to him. He has nanites swirling in his eye, so he can see in the Fog and they don't kill him, which makes him a great scavenger. Working on a rented air raft with captain Hazel, driver Swedish, and engineer Bea, Chess tries to find enough in the Fog to sell. The woman who takes care of the group, Mrs. E., is "fogsick" from having rescued Chess as a baby, and is struggling to survive in a slum where the poor people are beleagured by all manner of forces. When the rumor circulates that the Kradoc, who controls most of the activity in the air, is looking for Chess, the team work together to try to keep Chess out of sight. When their raft crashes and the whole level that they live on is supposed to be "ditched" (tipped in the Fog below), the group manage to save Mrs. E by  borrowing another air craft. They run into Nisha and Vidious, who offer to help them if the children will work on their vessel, the Anvil Rose, until they reach the Port. Chess has found a valuable diamond, and hopes to sell it at the Port and use the money to make Mrs. E. well. When Kradoc finds Chess and realizes who he is, trouble ensues.

Like Edelman's Sky Jumpers, Hall's The Line, or Hughes' The Crack in the Sky,  The Fog Diver is a great middle grade Dystopian adventure. The invention of the nanites to clean up pollution is very believable, and Ross aptly describes Chess's world in great detail, from the cobbled together hovel Chess inhabits to the various airships that hurtle through the sky. An interesting detail that I really enjoyed was that the plants and animals on Earth are not attacked by the Fog, so they exist among the abandoned buildings. I wish that Chess had spent a bit more time wandering around and unearthing items from the past!

Hazel is a fearless captain, Bea is very fond of machinery, and Swedish is a gruff and obstinate foil for a close knit group. The addition of Loretta, who is more of a fighter, is a bit abrupt, but she ends up being just what the group needs. Chess's motivations for surviving and helping out Mrs. E. are very clear, and I am a bit curious to see if the next book in the series.

Aside from the pulse quickening adventures, the group also reminisces about the world that they never knew but about which they have heard stories. Did people on earth really eat string (cheese) and sticks (fish)? Were the seas really filled with whales, squid, and squarepants? And did the people of earth love the story of Skywalker Trek as much as Chess does? Snippets of skewed information handed down about Earth lighten the story when things look grim.

This had a bit of a Steampunk feel to it. Not my cup of tea personally, but I did think this was one of the better speculative fiction books I've read lately, even though the humorous comments about Skywalker Trek and the like just kind of annoyed me.


Iron Guy Carl said...

This sounds really good, especially after finishing The Boundless and Airborn a couple of weeks ago, which are both somewhat steampunk.

Charlotte said...

me too viz wanting more wandering in old buildings!

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