Good books (2.5 to 3.5)

Into the Mist [Into the Mist #1], by P.C. Cast

3 out of 5 stars. Like a feminist manifesto turned into a B movie Roadtrip. But it’s a good B movie if you remember not to take it too seriously – read it like it’s pulp fiction!

3 stars
This book is set to be published on July 12th, 2022.

Politicians are some of the most hated people in the world, just by virtue of their job and the resulting cliche. (Honest politicians? What are you smoking?)

I’m just telling you that to lay down some ground here, to make it clear that the protagonists of our tale could have been worse – they could have been politicians! Lucky for us, they’re not – instead, they belong to a different class of people who are also, shall we say, sometimes frowned upon: teachers.

Meet Mercury and Stella, two Oklahoma teachers on a spring summit in Oregon, chatting away and sipping mimosas like they’re starring in the remake of SATC (I think it’s called And Just Like That). A few nasty remarks about their colleagues later – and suddenly their world changes.

I sense a lack of mimosas in the immediate future! Oh no!

Pretty soon the setting changes from SATC to something more akin to Mad Max, and the green mist engulfing them brings back memories of John Carpenter’s The Fog (only in green). So I guess it’s welcome to the end times!

And yes, it becomes clear pretty soon that our protagonists are now living in an apocalyptic setting, where the initial green mist killed every man that breathed it in. But there’s still enough toxic masculinity (pun intended) to go around, as not everyone was outdoors when the bombs hit. And while the males are turning into slosh, it is hinted on pretty early that the females might even gain some restoration powers (although not all of them). Likes slow version of wolverine. (No claws, though, which feels like a budget cut. I mean, come on, give me the claws, too!)

So right now I’m wondering, who dropped the bombs, what was in the green mist? Maybe some kind of genetically engineered bio weapon (because of the gender targeting), but your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know it, our heroines don’t know it, and I’m not even sure if the author knows it. (Hopefully she’ll have it figured out in time for the second novel.)

But all in all, we’re off here to a promising start. It’s the apocalypse, our girls are in an old car, other survivors will pretty soon start to pick fights with them – it’s a road trip mad max style, y’all!

Throw in the simple minded surviving men, and you could easily argue that this novel is of the zombie variety of all things apocalypse. Well, there aren’t any  zombies in the classical sense, but then again those men should have been dead to start with, so they’re the walking dead, alright. And like classical zombies they’re on the constant lookout for braiiiins, if only because of the fact that they all seem a little missing in that department.

Most – but not all – of the men in this novel (skin color excepted).

Actually, that “men are brutal, stupid, aggressive and toxic” cliche is at times on the brink of getting annoying, but the female protagonists (with super powers, kind of) are adding a kind of chick lit vibe to this tale that turns everything around. I know this all might sound like a wild kaleidoscope of things, but it’s actually blended together really well – and makes for fun reading (despite the dystopian setting, because let’s be honest – the one and only time this whole apocalypse thing was really funny was during Good Omens by Pratchett & Gaiman).

I’ve already told you about the powers of self healing the women got, but it goes deeper than that. It seems the green fog changed something in their blood which now holds healing powers that stretch beyond the body. Mercury discovers it when she accidentally cuts herself and bleeds on some potatoes that start sprouting away. Which is, if you think about it, some kind of allegory. (And maybe there are some more alterations to the women’s body, like intuition and other stuff.)

There are exceptions to the “men are bad” show here, but basically we see men as destroyers (when the ladies see the bombs drop, one of them immediately says something about men finally destroying the world, which is either a weird flex or some foreboding) and women as caretakers and livegifers. That duality seems to be at the core of this tale.

And once you’re aware of that, you realize that P.C. Cast is actually very upfront with this. There’s a PJ party kind of scene in the lodge where the ladies are talking about how the world could be better with less men in it and more women running the show. That’s not only on the nose, it’s also feeling a little too much forced. I mean, really, it’s like the apocalypse out there. Shouldn’t you be thinking about increasing your odds of survival instead of planning a new world order? And there is one scene where this is taken too far, in the lobby of a lodge when the ladies tell the people it’s basically good luck that the fog kills men because men have been running the world too long and too wrong. There’s some truth to it, but telling this to a wounded guy who probably worked as a handyman seems like an insult. That guy ain’t done shit, just saying.

The book turns ever more feminist during it’s course, but you know what? I’ve immensely enjoyed it. Yes, at times I thought that the author is belittling all men (see above), but then again there are some good men in here too, as identification figures I could use. (Most of them die pretty soon, like good old Sims. Ah, well.) And it really is fun to watch the ladies on their road trip. Go girls, you rock!

Trust no one is the unofficial motto of the new world.

That being said, I might have been reading the book wrong. It’s quite possible P.C. Cast did indeed mean it like some feminist manifesto (feminifesto? manifeministo?), and to be honest, there are some critical points about today’s society you just can’t argue with (she is right about men being war mongers and generally more aggressive, there’s simply no denying it). Then again, I treated this tale not as a social commentary, but rather as some kind of popcorn cinema/entertainment. You know, the kind of movie you watch for the thrills and the fun, not because you want to be intellectually stimulated. Like the mission impossible franchise – I’m here for the kicks and the action! And the ladies in Into The Mist do some serious butt kicking while sipping red wine and mimosas, it’s just fun to watch.

Actually, I was reminded of the Tarantino movie death proof by this group of women. Luckily, the group from the second half, not the first, if you catch my drift. Which probably turns Zoë Bell into Mercury and Rosario Dawson into Stella.

Although, regarding the delivery of pun-chy one liners, they could have learned from some men, really.

I’m still waiting for a good one-liner

In the end, I enjoyed my time with this motley crew of women, and I’m inclined into looking into the second book when it comes out. I’m rating it 3 stars – I just have to take one star away for the bluntness with which men are presented as the root of all evil. A second star falls victim to the fact that there are so many cliches in here. But it’s solid 3 star trash entertainment for me!

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Reader’s Copy and am leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

2 replies on “Into the Mist [Into the Mist #1], by P.C. Cast”

You totally rocked this review, Stefan!
Hmmm, I consider myself an ardent feminist, but I don’t hate men or want them to perish or be wiped out by the apocalypse. Well, maybe just a few of the rats that I dated in my youth…. but that is another story! I have three brothers and I have no illusions, but I do not like stories that label “men” as the author of all of our misfortunes. Women have been known to cause a few historical nightmares as well. And they do say that behind every famous man, there is a (good?) woman!(?) I’m thinking Eva Perone, Eva Braun , Cleopatra…… So, maybe its we humans who have been messing this world up? Great job, Stefan!

Liked by 1 person

If I had for even one moment stopped to consider these opinions as serious, it would have stopped reading it entirely. I’ve decided that this is some kind of trash movie and should be treated as such, and in this respect, it’s enjoyable.

Liked by 1 person

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