Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review - Dust by Joan Frances Turner (3/5 stars)

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. When I saw this book which promised to be "a different type of zombie book" I was excited. I love zombie books and was looking for a fresh take. Overall the story is okay, but didn't seem all that original to me. The most notable thing about the book was the extremely graphic and gory descriptions given of all things putrid and nasty.

Jessica Anne Porter has been dead for nine years and she has been shambling around with a zombie gang just trying to make her way through her undead life. Then live people start showing up looking mostly dead and smelling strange and dead people are showing up looking more alive with the same strange smell. Something is changing their world and it doesn't seem to be for the better. Can Jessie and her gang survive the changes to come?

The most creative aspect of this novel is looking at zombie as higher functioning humans; basically the zombies in this book do shamble but they also can communicate at a level higher than normal humans and lead somewhat disgusting but fulfilling lives. This is not a book for the weak of stomach. The stages of zombie-hood; bloating, followed by bug infestation, and moving onto getting all dusty and itchy are all described in incredibly gory detail. The hunting, killing, and eating of...well...everything is also described in more detail than I ever needed to know; seriously it was stomach turning.

Jessie isn't really a likable character (I mean I guess as a zombie she doesn't need to be). You get to see her daily life a lot throughout this book and, to be honest, she isn't easy to relate too. In fact this book was full of selfish, strange characters that were hard to relate to and difficult to understand.

I also felt like the pacing was off in this book. It took a long time for the story to get started and the story shambled on at a very slow, dare I say, zombie-like pace. Things pick up some half way through but there is never really much of a point to the whole thing. The story was a little engaging, but never really grabbed me.

The zombies in this book are just as screwed up as all the living people, giving them a humanity that zombies in a lot of stories don't have. So that does make this book a bit different. The problem is I have read a lot of zombie books and that take just isn't all the unique. For those who want to read about thinking zombies integrating themselves into human society I would recommend reading Daniel Water's Generation Dead series. The Generation Dead series takes an in-depth look into the problems with zombies and society, throws in a little romantic subplot, some mystery, and doesn't make me feel like puking every other page.

Overall zombies as a higher form of humanity is an interesting concept and I applaud Turner for trying to give the reader an in-depth look into the zombie mind. However, the page space given to gory detail was just too much for me, the plot moved slowly, the characters were hard to relate to. At the end of it all I mostly was just happy to have finished reading this book. Seriously, this book is not for the weak of stomach. I would recommend Generation Dead by Daniel Waters as an alternative; it's not as gross, has great characters, and seriously considers the problems of zombie integration into society. If you want another zombie recommendation consider picking up The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell; this is a truly fantastic zombie read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenge:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

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