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Dust Hardcover – September 7, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Resurgam Trilogy Series

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Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
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An award-winning collection from one of today's most lauded writers, Stories of Your Life and Others is a contemporary classic. Learn more | See related books
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Product Details

  • Series: Resurgam (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780441019281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441019281
  • ASIN: 0441019285
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mrs. Baumann VINE VOICE on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
"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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WARNING: Do not read this book if you have a weak stomach. I have a pretty strong stomach and DUST almost got me more than queasy.

This is definitely a different take on the zombie novel. First of all, it is told from the POV of Jessie, newly awakened from the grave and becoming part of the Fly-By-Nights gang. They are all "undead" (zombie is not used, racist you know).

These undead are strong, they communicate with each other, they haven't all lost their intellect, they have emotions and can love each other, and they have many other differences from the undead you are used to.

I enjoyed DUST overall. It is too wordy in some spots and drags a bit but it is a unique, stomach-churning different view of the undead world. I especially liked the dances.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, when I give a book a middling rating, it means the book was middling throughout. This is not one of those times. I intensely disliked the first half of _Dust_, and it took me about a month to get through it. The second half, I loved, and read in one day.

_Dust_'s greatest strength -- and also its greatest drawback -- is that Joan Frances Turner writes description extremely well. She has the gift of evoking that one perfect image that puts you right there in the character's mind: a dimly remembered strawberry, or a lost connection described as:

"a light shining from a farmhouse window on some dark, empty highway, streaking brightly across your windshield as you drive past, and then fading. And then gone."

It becomes a drawback when Turner conjures up, with the same skill, the imagery of human decomposition. Readers with cast iron stomachs may not mind, but many others will feel physically ill throughout much of _Dust_. It was a little too much for me, I confess.

Turner's undead, who prefer not to be called zombies, are sentient and have an entire culture of their own. They communicate via radio waves when their mouths and throats can no longer form words. They have their own life cycle, starting when they tunnel up from the grave, continuing through the stages of decomposition, then culminating in a second death. It's easy to feel pity for the undead, who retain their mental and emotional capacities but whose bodies are rotting and whose loved ones feel nothing but revulsion if they meet again. Yet this thinking is something of a trap, it turns out; many of the undead are content with their lot and don't want their old lives back, and one human goes to appalling extremes in an attempt to "fix" someone who doesn't want to be fixed.
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