The book opens with Kathy reminiscing about how she got to this point. Kathy is an 8th grade girl from Morgan Hill California, who was shipped off to an abstinence camp because her parents thought it would be a good experience for her. Even though as she says, she was a ‘good girl’ and didn’t even sneak makeup on at school like the other girls.
The day she was dropped off at camp was the last time she ever saw her parents or her sister and brother. A week after starting camp, the cell phones stopped getting signals and the mail truck didn’t arrive. The camp admin, and all but one of the counselors left to go to the post office and pick up the mail. They never returned. The lone counselor was only 20 years old, and taking care of 48 kids all by herself quickly got to her. She took to her bed and refused to leave her cabin except to use the bathroom.
One of the older boys left the camp to see what had happened to the other adults. It took him 3 days to get almost to the nearest convenience store, when he saw a weird fog across his path. It was thick and low to the ground. A doe was nearby and he stopped to watch it. The doe walked into the fog and soon was freaking out and trying to escape, but fell over. He thought she was dead, and then something unseen seemed to drag the body deeper into the fog. He returned to the camp then and told the other kids.
One boy, Mike, soon became the unofficial leader. He said they should put a guard on the food, start rationing as they didn’t know how long they would be alone and how long the food would last. The camp started to split, the boys having nightly meetings and the girls holing up in their cabins.
They had to figure out how to get through the winter on their own. After a year of living in the mountains alone, they discover that not only is the fog slowly receding, but that there are other groups living on the mountain. Including a camp the of U.S. Army.
The story is told from the point of view of a 14 year old girl. But I would not recommend it for younger readers as the story has dark themes, including murder and a hanging early on. At one point, Kathy likens what is happening to “The Lord of the Flies“, and that is a fairly apt comparison for this book. It is a very interesting read, kept my attention and made me want to know how it ended.
A lot goes on during this book, lots of people to keep track of and twists and turns. At 553 pages, it will take a few days to finish reading and you may wish to take a number of breaks to process all that has happened. The time span is a little over four years, from age 14 to somewhere past age 18 for Kathy. The characters stick with you however, and their personalities aren’t generic or flat. You get to see Kathy grow up during the book, how she changes from a scared child into a woman and a leader. There are funny moments, and sad moments, and through it all you can really see this happening. The decisions made make sense, not just for moving plot along, but really make sense for what is happening in the book at the time. Over all, I would recommend this book.