Book Review No. 9: The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
Series: The Fog Diver, book 1 of 2
Genre: Children’s dystopian fantasy/science-fiction (with a dash of steampunk flair for seasoning)
Content for the sensitive reader: Some highly dramatic elements/tension, death of one character depicted in some detail. Little concerning language or other objectionable content.
Review Spoilers: None
Completion Date: Late Summer, 2018
BookmarkedOne Rating: 9/10
I really, really loved this one. It’s the kind that are hard to come by.
First we had a handful of balloons, then airships, of course pirates, it’s also dystopia, don’t forget the nanites, sublimely written characters, gooey delicious backstory that isn’t overblown, and worldbuilding incredibly immersive for juvenile fiction–
You don’t know the half of it.
This is one of those books that got recommended to friends (acquaintances, family members, and coworkers) whether they were looking for a new read or not.
One of them read it. He loved it. And he doesn’t read.
What makes me love this one so fanatically?
- Chess, the mysterious diver himself, always about to run away (your lovely sneak-thief character).
- Hazel, the daring captain of their little salvage crew who always seems to have a plan (did we mention her hair is awesome? Like “three kinds of awesome?”)
- Swedish, your typical grumpy muscle who blushes a good deal more than your typical muscle and compares everything to “berry pie.”
- Bea. Adorable in absolutely every sense of the word. You’d want to hug her as soon as you met her, but then she’d be busy scurrying off to make an airship come to life out of a box full of broken gears.
- Loretta, tattooed thug girl with a crush on Swede and plenty of scars (She takes a bit longer to warm up to. Be patient).
- Mrs. E. She will love any child who needs it, and so they will be the first to do something for her when she needs them.
And of course, we have the dashing twin pirates, the devious Lord Kodoc, and a few others. You get the idea. But there’s such a sense of family between the main four characters it’s positively irresistible. You know, just by reading a few pages, these characters will stick by each other in the face of anything.
Hard to come by. Worth the read.
But Joel Ross doesn’t stop there.
- Jargon. Since we’re in a dystopia, there’s always things of cult fandoms and pop culture that are…almost remembered. I laughed a lot over these. Especially “the googol.” My personal favorite.
- Cozy first-person narrative with a strong main character voice. The voice was awesome. Like easily rivaling Conn from The Magic Thief or Sage from The False Prince. Chess’ character was easy to understand, believe, and love from the very first page.
- Gorgeous science-fiction conceit that makes for a very compelling plot. As Chess says, “White on white. So peaceful I could almost stay forever.” I personally fell in love with the Fog. I mean, yes, I love natural fog anyway, but the idea of an entire world waiting beneath the swirling surface, just for Chess–it’s one of those places we’d like to put the narrative on time out, climb inside the book and wander around in for a while. If we could.
- Ballooning, skydiving, and air pirates. As if we really needed any more coolness to add to the pile.
I realize now this is actually one of those rare books I don’t have anything bad to say about. And I’m sure there are so many things I’m leaving out. The Rooftop, Port Oro, all the delightful phrases–Yet I can’t think of anything better that I could do than push you into an overstuffed armchair, open the book, and read.
Some things you just can’t explain unless you’ve been there.