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The Fog Diver: 10/23/15
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross is a near future dystopian environmental disaster adventure story. Thirteen year old Chess is a tetherboy on Captain Hazel's salvage raft, a dirigible that floats above an ever present, man-made fog that protects animals but kills humans. That is except for Chess who was infected by the fog as an infant and now appears to be immune to it.
What Chess and the others want more than anything is to escape the clutches of Lord Kodoc, a ruthless man who patrols the land and skies of the slums. He wants to capture children like Chess so that he can find a way to control the fog.
The Fog Diver was a winning combination for me from the get go. First, it takes the old salvage stories of the likes of Joseph C. Lincoln, Partners of the Tide, for instance, and brings them into a near future setting. It has a natural disaster caused by technology, in this case, nanobots, which brings to mind the excellent cartoon series, Generator Rex. Finally, it's set in a mountainous and cut off area similar to where the author lives (and I once lived), Santa Barbara. Though the area isn't specifically named it was fun to mentally populate the below the fog stuff with places I used to haunt.
The time line for this book is such that some of the people involved in the original disaster are still alive but are old enough to be the grandparents and great-grandparents of Chess's generation. Chess's father, for instance, kept a scrap book of things he could find about life before the fog and those things include pop culture tidbits from now to about 1970. Chess's dad, though, must have been too young to have clear memories of life before as the stories he's passed down to Chess are mangled.
Depending on who is reading this book, those jumbled up pop culture references might go right over the head of the reader. For others though they'll be fun tidbits. I'm old enough to have gotten all of them but my son and daughter who haven't been raised exclusively on the geek culture of the 1970s and 1980s probably wouldn't. The book, is however, written for their age level and has plenty of adventure and good characterization to keep them turning the pages too.