Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Dust by Joan Frances Turner Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Pages: 384

Publisher: Ace

*Readers should note that this is a work of adult fiction. Dust contains frequent use of coarse language and disturbing imagery.*

“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…”

To Zombie or not to Zombie, that is the question. When it comes to the characters from Dust, it would be in your best interest not to mention the ‘z’ word. The Fly-by-Nights, the main zombie gang in this novel, live in the woods where they eat very fresh meat, fight amongst themselves, and complain about how much it itches to have bugs devouring their flesh. Sounds like your typical zombies, right? Wrong. Dust is a new zombie novel, one that will have you sympathizing with, even routing for these flesh devouring foes of humanity. In fact, Jessie, the engaging protagonist of this novel, is a zombie herself.

Jessie died nine years before this story starts, but she is still very much alive. She eats, sleeps, walks, and feels. She’s even in love. But she and her gang are most definitely not human. They prefer to eat flesh still warm with the heat of the dead animal, they can communicate telepathically, and they’re basically walking corpses.

In a grotesque way, the lives of these living-dead are absolutely fascinating. Sure, it takes a little while to get used to all the raw meat, fighting, and decomposing, but who can resist a good zombie novel, especially one with as much heart as Dust. Part one establishes the regular inner workings of the gang, and introduces the cast of characters. Part two is where things start to get fishy. Humans are starting to behave more like zombies and zombies are starting to behave more like humans. It’s unclear if either race will survive.

Dust is an adventure. Albeit a slightly disturbing one, an adventure none the less. A faced paced novel (frankly it’s a good one to read on the treadmill because it helps you lose track of time) that will keep you on your toes. Many of the harrowing final scenes had me bighting my nails, hoping against hope that Jessie would receive a happy ending.

The big picture: While Dust is not a novel for the faint of heart, it certainly brings an intriguing new slant to the world of zombie fiction.

Sequel Alert: The author announced that the sequel to Dust, Frail, should be arriving in a bookstore near you sometime during the next two years.

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