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Dust [Paperback]

Joan Frances Turner

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Book Description

Oct. 4 2011

Nine years ago, Jessie was in a car crash and died. After she was buried, she awoke and tore through the earth to arise, reborn, as a zombie. And there were others-gangs of undead roaming the Indiana woods, fighting, hunting, hidden. But when a mysterious illness threatens the existence of both zombies and humans, Jessie must decide whether to stay and fight or flee to survive...

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Trade; Reprint edition (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020690
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #615,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Meet 15-year-old Jessica Anne Porter. She's a plucky teenager from a town near Chicago who spends most of her time hanging out, looking for something to eat, and finding a safe place to bed down for the night. Jessie's not a homeless person, though. She's an undead person. Turner's debut is a massively entertaining and seriously revisionist zombie novel. How revisionist? Well, her characters communicate with each other eloquently (although, to humans, it sounds like a lot of grunts). They remember their past lives: who they were, how they died. They have thoughts and emotions, and when a new kind of creature, a sort of human-zombie hybrid, appears out of nowhere, they feel fear. The author has taken the familiar zombie clichTs and given them a good shake. Jessie, who's been dead for nine years, is as real and human a character as anyone you're likely to meet in the pages of a mainstream novel, and Turner has created a new zombie mythology that is smart, scary, and viscerally real. Recommend this one highly to horror fans, even those who claim to have sated themselves on zombies."
-David Pitt, Booklist (starred review)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joan Frances Turner was born in Rhode Island and grew up in the Calumet Region of northwest Indiana. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, she lives near the Indiana Dunes with her family..

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - An intriguing zombie premise that does an excellent job with the gore Oct. 8 2010
By Mrs. Baumann - Published on Amazon.com
Plot Summary: Killed in a car accident as a young teen, Jessie woke up in her coffin under six feet of earth and clawed her way out to live as a zombie. She met up with a gang of semi-reclusive zombies who haunt the woods of Calumet County, Indiana, and she's been with them ever since. Jessie eschews eating humans - who live in barricaded townships against the zombie menace - and she lives off deer, possum, duck, and any other animal she can hunt. Despite her supernatural strength, Jessie's body will slowly decompose, bloat, become infested with bugs, and then dry up. Despite this grim future, Jessie's survival instinct is strong, and she has a lot of affection for some of the zombies in her gang. When strange-smelling creatures, halfway between dead and alive, begin to infiltrate the forest, Jessie suspects that some of her fellow zombies have caught a new disease, and she tries to piece it all together. What she can't imagine is that she's intimately involved with this new threat to zombies and humans alike, and it will change society forever.

After I read the first chapter I realized that I wouldn't be eating any food while reading Dust. My roast beef sandwich just wasn't palatable after reading about these maggot-ridden zombies who shamble around spitting out black "coffin liquor" while losing body parts in the woods. I give author Joan Frances Turner an A for her vivid, stomach-churning descriptions, because when I'm reading a book about zombies, I want to be grossed out. It's par for the course.

Dust has an interesting premise. The zombies in Ms. Turner's vision retain enough of their humanity to socialize, communicate, and enjoy their undead life, but their hunger instincts eliminate any compassion they might feel for the humans and animals they eat. Zombies can live for centuries, and they communicate via a sort of telepathy, since lips, throats and tongues start to decay soon after death. I can't say I've encountered this kind of zombie before, and I was able to suspend my disbelief for the most part and revel in their disgusting nature. They didn't win my heart, which is kind of a shame since they are "humanized" zombies, but I was rooting for them by the end. The humans themselves didn't elicit any of my sympathy, strangely enough.

The plot unfolds with a series of small, seemingly unconnected events, and by the end there's a full-on plague that practically wipes out life on Earth. I thought it was over several times, but there were more and more pages to read, so I was impressed at how it kept twisting and turning toward its conclusion. Unfortunately the pacing is a little hampered by dreams, flashbacks, and existential passages that made for slow reading at times, but it did build up into something that was exciting to read.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble." Ben Franklin April 22 2011
By michael a. draper - Published on Amazon.com
"My right arm fell off today.Lucky for me, I'm left handed." So begins the story of Jessie Anne Porter. She was killed when she was a teenager and her father crashed into a pickup truck.

Jessie remembers having to crawl to the surface of her grave. Somehow she had become a zombie. She wasn't bothered by her stink but was consumed with hunger and drawn to the scent of a rabbit in the cemetery.

Jessie joins a group of zombies, the Fly-by-Nights. Unlike traditional zombies, the mutated beings had human traits. Florian was ancient and philosophical, Teresa is the pack leader and is territorial and demonstrates jealousy of Jessie.

When Jessie meets Joe, she describes him "The...right side of his face was smashed in..crushed cheekbone...maggots seethed from every pore."

It demands certain discipline for the uniniated to read a zombie story. I was constantly grossed out as, at one point a large beetle emerged from one zombie who made the transition from a bloater to a breeder.

A new illness is discovered which causes the undead beings to grow new skin and muscles and become more lifelike. At the same time, humans or hoos become near death and often wish to be killed.

The story continues with groups attempting to gain power but this illness seems like an epidemic and the reader must learn the effect on both groups.

Jessie and Florian are unique characters and the novel gets a good mark for originality and the telling of a tale. I did think that the novel was too long in developing the main part of the story and could have been condensed.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome but intriguing.... Aug. 21 2010
By Deborah Wiley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Jessica Anne Porter is a zombie, although she finds that term offensive. She's literally falling apart in a world inhabited by other gangs just like the one she is in. However, things are starting to change in Jessie's world. Will she and her fellow Fly-By-Nighters learn to adapt and cope or is this the end of humanity, both living and undead?

DUST takes an intriguing approach to zombies, making them sentient beings who survive in small gangs. Humans, called the derogatory term of hoos, are the evil ones. Jessie finds herself caught in between worlds, between her new family and the world of the hoos she left nine years ago when the car crash killed her the first time. The conflict is well done as Joan Frances Turner puts a different perspective on zombie society as a whole. The concept of the music and the dances is particularly fascinating, although I'd have liked just a bit more explanation about it.

DUST is as gory as one would expect, perhaps even more so. I'm fairly immune to most horror novels but this one had me a bit queasy with some of the descriptions involving the bugs. The beginning is a bit slow, focusing more on the zombies with all their gruesome feedings. However, these aspects are necessary as it sets the stage for how much things are about to change. Once the story really kicks in, DUST is hard to put down!

Joan Frances Turner does a marvelous job at creating multidimensional characters. Be forewarned- there are no real good or bad guys in DUST. Instead, there are characters who make choices, sometimes well intentioned, that can cause quite a few unintended consequences. It's hard not to like Jessie, though, for her sheer determination to keep going even when it flies in the face of all logic.

DUST is a phenomenal entry into the zombie literature! Joan Frances Turner creates a world that is both frightening and grisly while creating characters that pull the reader into the storyline. Enjoyable for fans of zombie books who want something just a bit different.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark, intense, depressing and excellent Aug. 5 2010
By I Teach Typing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I ordered a pre-release of Dust hoping for some fun to hold me over until The Living Dead: The Beginning is released. Instead of the typical ultraviolent zombie bloodbath that I was expecting, Dust delivered an intense, disturbingly realistic post-apocalyptic world, told by a sympathetic hero, who happens to be dead. If you are tempted to dismiss this book off-the-top as a copycat "through the eyes of the undead" rip off of Anne Rice's famous stories or Breathers: A Zombie's Lament don't worry this book is a VERY different beast. The world is totally bleak and scary and the characters are trying stay "alive" (... errr undead... errr sentient) instead of puttering around in the world of the living. Probably the closest book I have read to this is I Am Legend (not the movie). Both books paint a similar depressing horror world but this one offers 24 hour high-speed full-color zombie hell instead of the slower pace, safe in the daylight world of I am Legend.

While this is not a really gory book by modern zombie standards (dismemberment is rare) it is not for the faint of heart. The heroine is falling apart (literally) and she deals with the undead who are putrefying and are chronically infested with bugs. Some sections will leave you applauding for the excellent grossness and going to get a can of Raid.

While I love this book it is not without flaws. The descriptions of the zombies communicating telepathically with musical overtones and the group dancing is really distracting and pulled me away from the flow of the text in a couple places.

Even with the weaknesses this book is exceptionally hard to put down and a truly excellent nightmarish adventure.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mindless zombies need not apply Sept. 22 2010
By mellion108 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I love zombies.

Shuffling zombies. Quick zombies. Single-minded zombies. Evolved zombies. Smart-alec talking zombies. Oozing don't-want-to-meet-that-in-the-dark zombies. Bring 'em all, and I'll read about them. I'm not a purist, and I believe there is plenty of room in the zombie world for an entire rainbow of undead. I happily add Dust to my growing collection of walking dead tales.

After a particularly uncivilized meeting of her body with a car's windshield, Jessie claws her way out of her grave to find that she's one of...them. The things that lurk in the dark. The things that hunt in the no-man's land where the living are forbidden to go. She's a mindless, decaying, hungry zombie. Except she's not so mindless. She knows exactly what's going on, and she finds that she experiences things so much more intensely than when she was alive. Jessie even discovers that meat - that evil thing that she refused to eat when she still needed to breathe - is just about the most glorious thing on earth. Then Jessie hooks up with a new gang (ok, so it's not all that hospitable...acceptance into the group requires a severe beating), and she and her new friends hunt game with their heightened strength and senses. They don't communicate in any "normal" way and yet they always know what the others are thinking. The hunger sometimes blinds them to all else, but there always seems to be another deer or possum waiting to be eaten. She's relatively happy in this existence, comfortable in the knowledge that she would die (again) for her friends and they for her. They guard their turf and stay out of the way of the meaner, stronger gangs.

And then it all goes straight to hell. One of the smarty-pants hoo-cows (humans to you breathers) stumbles on something that just might change everything. When it does, indeed, change everything, Jessie isn't the only creature fighting for survival.

This is a book that turned out to be so very different than what I expected. I think I was expecting a teenage/comedy/romance/undead sort of story. Perhaps a Twilight with decay instead of fangs. Au contraire! This was a dark, intense first-person telling of an entire civilization spiraling out of control. Of a young girl fighting against what she thinks she left behind so long ago. And of a surreal apocalypse that brings Jessie face to face with...something. It's sweet. It's disgusting (hey, if you can't stomach some graphic passages about what happens to a human body in decay, you might want to move on to something else). It's subtly creepy. I love Jessie's voice. She's honest and rough and intense and tender. I admit that the ending was a bit disconnected from the rest of the story. Something was missing, and it was a bit rushed, but the story overall really threw me for a loop. Two blackened and slimy thumbs up from this reader.

Can I call for a sequel? Yes, please.

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