I have been concentrating my reading time on gardening related topics lately and in my shift of focus, I have forgotten to review some of the books I enjoyed this winter. One of those was Surviving the Fog by Stan Morris. I was only prompted to remember my oversight by the recent realization that the author has been a frequent commenter and encourager of our blog. He had made mention that he wished he’d known about the abundance and nutritional value of chickweed before he’d written the story.
This novel is unique in several ways. First, the characters are almost entirely teenagers, forced to cope on their own after a mysterious but apparently toxic fog appears. They are at sleep-away camp and the adults are away from the mountain campsite when the thick brown fog settles below the seven thousand foot mark. Nothing is visible through it and anything that wanders into it appears to be overcome and killed.
Being that the characters are adolescents, this time of testing forces them to grow up, get along, work together, and plan ahead in a very short time frame. As sometimes happens among adults in a stressful situation, the “cool” ones don’t necessarily turn out to be the best leaders. It is further complicated by the fact that one of the younger boys is actual best suited to take over. In high school, there is usually a pretty well-defined hierarchy among kids not only based on social standing, but also on age. They all have to work through that.
Since this is a summer camp in a high elevation, the coming winter must be planned for. How will they make shorts and T-shirts suit them in cold weather and how will they manage when the food supply is exhausted? They know they can’t re-supply down the mountain because the fog stubbornly remains. For the same reason, they can’t count on being “saved” by parents or anyone else.
Eventually, they realize there are some other people who either permanently lived up on the ridgeline before or made their escape when the fog coagulated. Not all are benevolent and possessing a spirit of hard work and cooperation. The teenagers must learn to defend themselves, come up with a justice system, and then enforce it.
I enjoyed this story for its survival components, but also because the perspective is unique. There are lots of stories from the viewpoint of adults who find themselves totally unprepared for a TEOTWAWKI event, but it was refreshing to imagine the take of a group of adolescents who should not yet have to shoulder such burdens alone.
I think you will enjoy the story for all its merits, but the fact that it provides a fresh look at surviving and thriving from child’s perspective is especially good. For all of us who have teenagers (or have children that will eventually reach that age), I think it’s a good idea to consider how a world-changing event may be perceived in their eyes and realize how bright and adaptable they really can be.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Please share them in the comments section.