Fog. by Caroline Cooney. August 7, 2012 (originally 1989). Open Road Media. 220 pages. ISBN: 9781453264225
Fog is a horror novel by Caroline Cooney originally published in 1989, which has been revived recently as an ebook by Open Road Media. The story is set in Maine, and it follows Christina Romney, a young girl who has grown up in an insular community on Burning Fog Island, as she makes her way to the mainland, where she and several of her island neighbors will attend school for the year. She and high school senior, Anya, along with two boys from the island, will live with the school principal, Mr. Shevvington, and his strict English teacher wife. From the outset, Christina can tell that something isn’t right about the Shevvingtons. They are completely strict, even abusive, toward the kids who board with them. Furthermore, they convince Anya’s parents that Anya is mentally unstable, and Christina’s parents that she is a troublemaker, thus cutting them off completely from their island lives. Christina desperately wants to rescue herself and her friends, but with practically everyone on the Shevvingtons’ side, how will she ever survive?
I read Fog between two of Caroline Cooney’s Janie Johnson books, and I was so disappointed at the differences between this book and The Face on the Milk Carton or Whatever Happened to Janie? While those two books are extremely well-written and engaging, Fog falls flat. The creepy, foggy atmosphere of the story is well-described in the beginning, but the descriptions quickly become repetitive and fail to add much to the overall plot. The Shevvingtons are scary enough, but without any sense of their motivation for mistreating island kids, they lose their credibility as villains. Because so many of the characters’ behaviors and actions seem arbitrary, it’s easy to dismiss them and lose interest in Christina’s safety. Some of the descriptions are quite lovely on their own, but taken together, these poetic passages overwhelm the story, almost as though they are trying to distract the reader from the story’s lack of direction.
I think it’s a great idea to market Caroline Cooney’s older books to a new generation of YA readers, since many of her dark themes fit right into today’s trends. Unfortunately, this particular book doesn’t really hold up very well. That said, middle school girls will relate to Christina, and if they’re looking for a quick page turner that will give them a few chills, this book will fit the bill. Readers can also hear some comments from Caroline Cooney about her books and her readers in the video below:
I received a digital ARC of Fog from Open Road Media via Netgalley.