Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:12 PM

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Jessie doesn't have much of a face left, she's missing a fair amount of skin, her feet are black and bloated, and today her right arm fell off.

But they caught the deer anyway, so that's okay.

Jessie loves her life. Or, afterlife, I guess. She's not even really sure what to call it -- zombie is a stupid hoo term that she'd never dream of using, but undead lacks a certain flair. Her gang is called the Fly-by-Nights, so that's as close as she needs to a definition. Better than the Rat Patrol, skulking around the cities and dragging out luckless hoos for a terrified snack.

No, Jessie likes in out in the country just fine. It's peaceful, there's no maniacs with flamethrowers to worry about, the deer's good, and she has her gang with her. She's even got Joe, who has always looked out for her, right from the day she clawed her way out of the coffin.

But now things are changing -- there's a strange stink in the air and hoos are showing up all blue-tinged and wrong looking, and oh Mighty Leader Teresa's sneaking off on her own, acting more paranoid than ever. Worst of all, Joe isn't talking to her about any of it.

This is another nifty twist on zombies to add to my 'I Don't Like Zombie Stuff, But...' collection (right along with Shaun of the Dead and Feed). We've got Zombies with Stories here -- Jessie and her gang have their own language (it's all 'barg arrrgh' to the humans), along with dreams, fears, relationships and petty feuds. And they kick the snot out of each other a lot.

Jessie's a great narrator - no nonsense, sarcastic and sharp, but pulling these crazy stupid stunts for her friends so you know she really cares. She's living the end of the world, and all she wants is to keep the gang together and find a quiet spot to decay in peace.

Poor, dead Jessie.

The main thing I didn't like about this book was its tendency to draw things out. The gore I could deal with (note: eating while reading is NOT recommended), but there were several Fraught Moments where I was halfway hoping for a napalm strike to just End It Already. Overall, the story pulls through, and the atmosphere was a lovely mix of despair, decay, and defiance.

So I'd recommend checking it out, if you have a steady constitution. Hey, if the zombies are gonna take over the world, you'll definitely want Jessie on your side.

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