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Review: DUST

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DUST
Author: Joan Frances Turner 
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: The Berkley Group (Penguin)
ISBN: #978-0-441-01928-1
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal/Zombies
Format: Hardcover
I received this book from the publisher for purposes of an honest review.
From the author’s website:

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…

What I’m talking about:
I’m going to start by telling you that this is my first zombie book. I didn’t know what to expect, but my ideas of zombies were formed by horror movies. This is NOT what Jessie is about. She is a teenage girl that died and was reborn into a new life of the “undead.” The undead don’t feed on human brains (unless they want to), but rather the freshly killed flesh of any animal.  The story, told in the first person POV of Jessie, opens with a hunt for a deer and slides into Jessie’s memories of being “reborn” and meeting her gang.
It took me a while to adjust to reading the gore that is zombie. It’s not that this is a gruesome tale or a horror show, it’s just that well, these characters are undead. They are missing body parts, full of bugs, black-bloated gas-bags and turning to dust.  Ms. Turner does a wonderful job provided detailed descriptions of her world and its inhabitants. Just be prepared to see maggot-infested bodies as something wonderful and lovely.
This story is about life and death. It’s a journey of a girl trying to figure out what it means to be alive–whether one is human (a hoo, as she calls them) or undead. Jessie is happy with her gang, but as events unravel, her life is turned upside down and inside out. The gang’s adventures beings to change when they notice a hybrid-type human/undead creature in their woods. Each member of the gang has suspicions and hides truths. Some tell lies and most are scared. As the number of strange sitings increases, a change takes hold over the gang members, as they too become like the “others” in the woods. 
We are privy to Jessie’s every thought and at times her inner monologue can be confusing and overly drawn out. She goes off on tangents and has prophetic dreams that can complicate the story. Sometimes it worked for me and at other times, I started skimming the pages a bit. Especially near the end when I couldn’t tell if she was dreaming or actually seeing the things around her.
Through this journey, we watch Jessie come to terms with so many things. In the end, this story is one of regret, guilt, life, death, growth, evolution, family and love–a lot of heavy topics for a “zombie” story. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did, I was glad I picked it up.
My Rating:
Liked it, there were a few issues – recommend

DON’T FORGET! Thanks to the publisher, I have 3 COPIES of DUST to giveaway… For rules and entry, click HERE

  • Nice review..I see the givewaways but had yet to read a review about it. I do like zombie books and it sounds like this one is pretty good 🙂

  • Una

    It sounds really odd, not sure if it is something I can stomach.

  • Great review babe! I had a lot of the same feelings. 😀

  • You mentioned it was YA – anything objectionable in terms of the big 3: sex/violence/language?

  • @MacphailMaverickTL: There is no sex and some mild language… but it is violent. The zombies are in gangs and fight a LOT among themselves and with other gangs. Also, they eat “living flesh” aka just killed meat – and sometimes that meat is other zombies and humans.

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  • Great review-this book sounds really interesting. I’m just not sure I could get into the whole zombie thing.

  • There are people now who like their meat raw. Hopefully not human and raw. How different is that from vamps and weres? Just thinking out loud. That being said I don’t think this would be the life for me.

    Thanks for the great review and I am glad I discovered your blog!

    Terry Kate
    Romance in the Backseat

  • @Terry: I get what you are saying. In this book, it can be gruesome b/c the undead are tearing apart the flesh, organs and bones to devour. It is described in detail sometimes. I guess it would be like S. Meyer’s vamps – but told a bit more gory. Unlike the vamps of paranormal romance – who’s bit is often erotic.

  • ALSO – don’t forget… if you want a chance to win a copy of DUST be sure to comment on the entry post/page. Comments here are not for entry.

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