Guest Review: Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Posted December 14, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Publisher: Ace, Jove, PenguinGenres: Urban Fantasy

Mary‘s review of Dust by Joan Frances Turner

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…

Filled with rotting corpses, wriggling maggots, and smashed skulls, DUST serves up the kind of gross zombie-filled horror story so many of my students adore. The grosser, the better.

After Jessie dies in an unfortunate accident, she wakes up no longer a girl but as a zombie. A shambling, rotting, limb-losing zombie. But she’s not out to eat humans. She leaves that for the city gangs. No, our main character much prefers a fresh deer or squirrel to munch on. That blood, still warm from pumping through a body not five seconds ago, right before she snapped its neck, and all that super-fresh meat–so yummy. Jessie’s a well-written character and so is the rest of her gang, though it’s a little hard to connect with them.
The gore and the ick-factor throughout this story are great (just don’t snack on anything red before reading. Or beef jerky. Or, well, how ’bout just avoiding food for a bit.). I enjoyed reading a story in which zombies are presented in a completely different perspective–not just rotting corpses craving brains (braaaaiiins!) but as aware non-living creatures who are no longer human (and who just happened to like really raw meat, human included). Granted, the humans in this zombie-filled world think they’re just grr-arrg-ing but, in reality, the zombies are communicating with one another, have their own rough-and-tough communities, and even have some emotions. (Not much in the way of love, compassion or caring but emotions nonetheless.)

That being said, I had a little trouble with the story because so many random things seemed to happen. For example, the zombies are doing their zombie thing and, all of a sudden this human appears in a car, pukes, and then…not much more about her. Until later. It was a bit disconcerting for me.

Though the events, however random they seemed at the time, were eventually tied together, I wish we could have had a bit more connectedness between the events. I was also not a huge fan of the ending. It wasn’t a throw-the-book-across-the-room kind of ending but it went out with more of a whimper than a bang. I’m not certain if that was because there is a sequel in the works but I wasn’t left quite as satisfied as I’d hoped.

Despite that, I enjoyed DUST and have to say it is worth the read if for nothing more than the fabulously nasty descriptions and, of course, the zombies.

Rated 3.5/5.0

This book is available from ACE. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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One response to “Guest Review: Dust by Joan Frances Turner

  1. Rowena

    Oh wow, this doesn’t sound like anything I’d like to read and yet I find that I’m curious. Zombies? Hmm. Great review.

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