7 Jan 2011

Thoughts: Dust

Title: Dust
Author: Joan Frances Turner
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 374
Source: Borrowed from the library
Opening Line(s):"My right arm fell off today. Lucky for me, I'm left-handed."

Nine years ago, Jessie had a family. Now, she has a gang.

Nine years ago, Jessie was a vegetarian. Now, she eats very fresh meat.

Nine years ago, Jessie was in a car crash and died. Nine years ago, Jessie was human.

Now, she’s not.

After she was buried, Jessie awoke and tore through the earth to arise, reborn, as a zombie. Jessie’s gang is the Fly-by-Nights. She loves the ancient, skeletal Florian and his memories of time gone by. She’s in love with Joe, a maggot-infested corpse. They fight, hunt, dance together as one—something humans can never understand. There are dark places humans have learned to avoid, lest they run into the zombie gangs.

But now, Jessie and the Fly-by-Nights have seen new creatures in the woods—things not human and not zombie. A strange new illness has flamed up out of nowhere, causing the undeads to become more alive and the living to exist on the brink of death. As bits and pieces of the truth fall around Jessie, like the flesh off her bones, she’ll have to choose between looking away or staring down the madness—and hanging onto everything she has come to know as life

I first heard of this book through an email newsletter I get from my local library. The summary sounded rather interesting so I put it on hold.

First and foremost this is a zombie novel told from the point of view of the zombies. These are not your typical zombies; they communicate with each other, they form groups for company, safety and survival, and fun. Zombies, intelligent or not, are NOT sexy and Turner does not shy away from keeping that point right in the reader's face. Many reviews of this book have mentioned the overly gross/disgusting descriptions of the zombies, their life stages, the way they eat etc, but none of those scenes bothered me much at all because the writing in the novel is great.

Turner has done an amazing job at building her world. The zombie culture is well written and fleshed out and even though Jessie and her crew don't have much ambition; they're content to eat, sleep and fight, that in itself is still interesting to read about. I found the first half of the book to be more enjoyable than the second simply because the characters were just that much more, pardon the pun, alive than in the second half.

So, why three stars? I liked the book. I did finish it. My biggest problem was that the second half of the book took a huge turn towards the almost mystical/philosophical and I wasn't really expecting it. I was hoping for a much more dramatic reveal about the sickness and how/why it was occuring and I didn't get that. Instead the whole how/why was rather a let down and the ending of the book was almost too pat and a touch corny.

I've heard there are to be two more books in this series. I'd certainly be willing to read them when they're released, if only to see where this world could possibly be heading.

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