Dust [NOOK Book]

Overview

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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Dust

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Turner offers an original variation on the near-ubiquitous zombie theme in her debut novel, but her concept doesn't really coalesce by book's end. Rather than being mindless, drooling, shambling monsters, the undead can communicate with each other, struggle for leadership, and form emotional attachments when they're not chowing down on raw meat. Jessica Anne Porter, undead these nine years, is vehemently opposed to the word "zombie," which she considers racist. She belongs to a zombie gang called the Fly-by-Nights that battles other gangs over Wisconsin territory. The inevitable gore ("the nauseating, liquid softness of her brains scrambled eggs under my pounding fist"), and the main activities of daily unliving ("nothing to do but eat raw flesh and sleep too much and fight about nothing") don't offer much for readers to connect with. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Dust is...

“MASSIVELY ENTERTAINING . . . Turner has created a new zombie mythology that is smart, scary and viscerally real.”—Booklist (starred review)

“SPECTACULAR . . . A great, unsettling portrait of raw hunger and hope.”—Jeff Long, New York Times bestselling author of The Descent

“AMAZING . . . Joan Frances Turner has done for zombies what Anne Rice did for vampires.”—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Two Graves

“A TRULY ORIGINAL IDEA told from a viewpoint that will surprise and horrify.”—Laurell K. Hamilton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels

“WELL WRITTEN . . . A new and unique take on zombies.”—Ilona Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Steel’s Edge  

VOYA - Jennifer Rummel
Jessie became a zombie at the tender age of fifteen and lost out on most of life's great experiences. Now she lives with a new family, a family of zombies. She learns to become tough and fight her way through any battle. She learns to hunt and feed herself and her family. Most of all, Jessie learns to accept herself as a zombie. When a virus appears, it endangers everything that Jessie now holds dear. She desperately tries to unravel the mystery of what's happening not only to her species but to humans as well—no one is immune. She must piece together clues in order to survive again. Turner portrays the zombies in Dust with human characteristics—emotions and thought processes—instead of as terrifying monsters. They do not suck brains or eat humans; they feast only on animals to survive. Zombies form their own groups, their own attachments and hierarchies. Turner explores beyond the typical zombie novel and writes a tale that is part mystery, part genetic-engineering thriller, and all zombies. Fans of zombie or horror books will enjoy this horrifyingly gruesome tale with graphic descriptions of decay and death, hunting and eating, fighting and dying. Reviewer: Jennifer Rummel
Library Journal
What if zombies aren't mindless eating machines? What if they think, feel, and communicate with one another but just can't make themselves understood to ordinary humans? That's the premise of this debut novel, which is told from the point of view of Jessie, who's been dead for nine years. She runs with a gang and doesn't have it too bad, until a new disease begins to infect both the living and the undead, changing each in different ways. BZG Jessie's disdain for her living self's vegetarianism and animal-rights activism: "There's nothing in this world...as honest or as beautiful as meat and blood."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101565940
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 564,228
  • File size: 1,007 KB

Meet 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 and a garden full of spring onions and tiger lilies, weather permitting.  She is also the author of Frail, the follow-up to Dust.
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Read an Excerpt

2

Nine years ago, I was alive. Nine years ago, Jessica Anne Porterwas fifteen and lived in a nice house in the very wellguardedtown of Lepingville, an hour out of Chicago, and gotokay grades and wanted to do something someday with animalrights. Her hair was auburn dyed something brighter, Iforget what. I don't see bright colors well anymore. She had amother, father, a sister in her first year of college, a brother inhis last—neither of them could wait to get out of the house,they barely spoke to her parents. And her parents barely spoketo each other. Then one day they were in a rare good moodand took her out to dinner, and then there was the Toyota ridehome.

Dad took the back roads home, the scenic tour. You weren'tsupposed to do that, you were supposed to stay on the mainhighway with the blindingly sulfurous roadside lights (the"environmental hazards," as we called them, you never put itmore directly than that, supposedly hated bright light) andthe toll booths. Each booth had a FUNDING COMMUNITY SAFETYsign so you wouldn't throw a tantrum as you forked over yourmoney, a sentry bearing an emergency flamethrower. See?Safety. Suck on that, you suburban cheapskates. The small,cramped booths could serve as safe houses in a pinch, if a"hazard" somehow surprised you on the road. They had to letyou in, that was the law. But my dad had paid four tolls ineighteen miles just to get to the restaurant and my mom complainedthe road lights gave her headaches and it was a prettynight and for once nobody was screaming at each other sowhy not take the old road, the long way home? Rest your eyes.Have a bit of peace and quiet.

It was two miles from the county line, where the formerindustrial park gave way to beachy dune grass and rows ofhalf-built condos sat empty along the roadside, silhouetted inweirdly dim, soft white road lights. The old-fashioned kind.This was after they finally passed the moratorium on residentialbuilding in rural areas, the one the developers held up aslong as they could, until the "hazards" somehow got into thatgated community near the Taltree Preserve; whose woods,fields and ex-farmlands these are, even they then managed tofigure out. Nothing hazardous that night, though, just thedark sky and the low fuzzy whiteness and everything peaceful and sleepy until suddenly there were two blinding headlightsbearing down on us from the wrong side of the road, howlingbrakes and screaming and then, like the lost breath from ahard stomach punch, everything gathered into a fist andstruck, and then stopped.

I remember a pickup truck, yellow, gone faded saffronunder the road lights. And a woman's voice, not my mother's,moaning over and over like some nauseated prayer while I layon the pavement dying, Oh Christ, oh God, oh Christ oh Christoh Christ oh my God and I thought, Lady, it's a little late forthat now isn't it? Her voice was washed out, staticky with thebuzz of a million angry flies eating her up, and the buzzingbecame louder and louder and there were new flashing lights,red ones, but it was too late, I was all eaten up, and I closedmy eyes and fell asleep for a long time.

Then, days or weeks or months after the funeral, Iwoke up.

In old horror movies where someone gets buried alive,there's always that moment where they blink into the darkness,pat and grope around the coffin walls and let out thatbig oxygen-wasting scream as the screen goes black. Me,though, I knew I was dead, really dead and not put away bymistake, and another giant fist was gripping my brain andnerves and shoving away shock, surprise, bewilderment, onlyletting me think one thing: Out. And I knew, with absolutecertainty, that I would break free. I didn't seem to need airanymore, so I could take my time.

I tried putting my hands out just like in the movies, to feel the force and weight I was fighting—six feet under, that's alot of piled-up dirt—and that's how I found out my right armwas shot to pieces. The left could rattle the box a bit, but notenough. I raised my legs, each movement a good long achystretch after the best nap in the world, and pressed my palm,knees, feet against the white satiny padding overhead. Felt arattle. Pressed harder. Heard a creak.

Then I kicked.

The first blow tore through the satin lining and slammedinto the wood without a moment's pain; the second splinteredit, cracked it, and I kicked and kneed and punched until I hitshards of timber and musty air and then, so hard my wholebody rattled, a solid concrete ceiling overhead. A grave liner,Teresa explained to me later, another box for my box, but I feltreal panic at the sight and had to make myself keep kicking,harder, harder, and that awful concrete became fine whitedust that gave way to an avalanche of dirt. I was gulping downmouthfuls of mud and I was sad for my shirt, they'd buriedme in my favorite T-shirt that read ANIMALS ARE NOT OURS TO EAT, WEAR, OR EXPERIMENT ON and now it was plastered mutewith damp black dirt, but I kept swimming one-handed, kicking,tunneling upward through a crumbling sea. The moisttides of soil were endless, then I felt something finer andpowdery-dry and my good hand found thin cords of grassroots,poked through the green carpet-weave and ripped along jagged slit open to the air. The air—I didn't need it,maybe, but as I lay there drained and exhausted and felt itcool on my dirt-caked back I almost cried.

The sunset was a needle-thrust in my eyes. I crouched inmy own grave hole, retching up pebbles and earth, and gaspedat the smells of the world: the turned soil, the broken grassstems I clutched in my fist, graveside flowers old and new, thetrees and plants and the thousands of people and animalsthat'd left scents behind traversing the cemetery grounds. Myown dead, dirty stink, and it still didn't shock me, I was toodistracted by the other million fits and starts of odor floodingmy nostrils—this was how to experience the world, this noteof mushrooms sprouting in damp grass, this trace of old rubberfrom a sneaker sole, compared to this banquet eyes andears told you nothing! My head pounded, painlessly, like agreat throbbing vein: the hard pulsations of my new brain, myundead brain, but I didn't know that yet. I reached up, likesomeone would be there to lift me, and touched somethingrough and cold. A tombstone, my tombstone: August 14, 2001.I died on August 14, 2001, but what day was it now? Wherewas I now? Where would I go, where will I sleep, do I have tosleep—

I smelled it before I saw it, darting quick and confusedacross the grass. Rabbit. Fresh, living rabbit.

Every other scent and smell in the world instantly vanished.Hunger rattled my skull and shook my bones—porkchops, hamburgers, steaks rare and bloody, everything thatwould have made me vomit when I was alive but I had to havethem now, I had to have them raw and oozing juice and if Ididn't get that rabbit, if I didn't kill it and devour it now, I hadnothing to live for at all. I staggered to my feet and stood there trembling, legs stiff and exhausted, but before I couldeven try to run for my food something bloated and rotten inthe shape of a man, his dark suit jacket torn and spilling fatlittle white grubs, crawled on all fours from the pile of dirt thathad been his grave. The grave next to mine. The rabbit hadhalted too soon, crouching frozen with fear by our collectivetombstone, and as I watched it spasm and kick against death,as I watched my father sink long teeth into its skull and spitout soft tufts of brown fur, I was small again and only wantedto scream and cry, Daddy, why did you take my toy?

Something crawled from behind a yew tree, feverish andfast. A woman in the rags of my mother's favorite blue sweaterfell on him, grabbing the rabbit's meaty hindquarters for herself,and held on tight and chewed no matter how hard hepunched and kicked, so hard she sobbed between bites:Whap, cry, swallow, whap, cry, swallow.

But, Daddy, that's my toy.

They rolled on the ground, snarling with rage.

And you. What are you doing in my mom's favorite sweater?

But they'd dropped the rabbit carcass, fighting that hard,and I was so hungry and it was so good and I knew the answersto my questions, I already knew.

A garter snake slithered over my mother's foot and theyboth went crazy, grabbing fistfuls of grass where it had shotout of reach. Arguing again, fighting forever, only with soundsnow and no words—screeching violins, deafening poundingdrums. I was gone already, walking away. I never saw themagain.

I scraped a deep, gouging ridge in my back, crawlingthrough a gap I'd torn in the cemetery fence, and felt only apaper cut. A pinprick. I ran my tongue along my teeth andalmost screamed; the fence's barbed wire was nothing, butmy teeth had all grown long and blade-edged and when Ipulled my hand from my mouth, there was something thickand syrupy from the new cut on my tongue and fingers, almostlike blood but black. Coffin liquor, Florian told me later,my own putrefaction flowing through my veins. My hand wasswollen and livid, the veins and arteries gone dark.

I could barely walk. I staggered, tried crawling like mymom had but with the bad arm that wasn't any better. CALUMETCOUNTY MEMORIAL PARK, read the sign; that told me I wasin the middle of nowhere, if you insist on burying instead ofburning they make you do it far away from everything anddon't come crying to us if the funeral procession gets attacked,but where this particular nowhere was I had no idea. Otherthan me and that garter snake, no sign of life. I crawled andstumbled and crawled again, pushing through grass, gravel,leaves and underbrush. Snapping branches scared me, a singlecar speeding by terrified me; it'd find me and run medown if it got a chance. I didn't feel like a monster but I knewI looked like one. I cried from fear, wept from hunger, blacksyrupy tears splattering my muddy shirt.

I kept walking, deep into the countryside, no company butthe animals I was too scared to stop and hunt. What the hellwas I looking for? My throbbing skull started pounding inearnest, yielding to real pain, and my ears were flooded with a sudden off-kilter symphony of screeches, buzzes, trumpetsquawks, strings sliced shrilly in half. The buzzing like flies,that sound I remembered from dying. I shook my head to getrid of it, like real flies stuck in my head, and it grew louderand sharper and became muffled disjointed words:

—another one—grave—Joe—see—

I started shaking. Never mind what had happened to meand my parents, never mind the guard posts along the highwaysand every Lepingville entrance and exit, never mind allthe school safety drills and town committee handouts aboutthe others, the "hazards," the reasons you either burn like aGood Responsible Person or you get buried behind barbedwire in No Humans' Land—never mind all that because itcouldn't be true, I couldn't be true—

—circles—follow—

Circles, dizzy and hunger-sick around the same clumpof trees, and I couldn't find those voices or escape them but Itried to follow them not knowing why: hot-hotter-COLD—turn left—warmer-warmer-COLD—not so far left—so hungryhotter-COLD—straight ahead—too quiet—turn around. Myguts twisted hot-hotter—ON FIRE with emptiness, no moremeat, no nothing. Voices faded, returned in tinny crashes ofmusic, then vanished. I was on the worst ice-cream truck chasein the history of the world, but if I kept going the voices wouldfind me, they'd tell me where to go and feed me and takeme in—but then I took a wrong turn and it was cold-colderabsolutezero, every sound gone. The clouds overhead seemed to burst and collapse like bubbles, inky night pouring in as Istood there covered in mud and black blood. All alone.

I doubled over, threw my head back and screamed. Frankenstein'smonster, roaring, and it felt so good that I crouchedin the leaves and shouted louder, ripping myself inside outwith hunger and fear. Something small and furry shot pastme, terrified of the sounds I was making, and I could havechased it but my head pounded and throbbed and everythingbefore my eyes melted, sliding off my plane of vision as I succumbedto the vertigo. A spoon heated seething red scrapedmy gut away piece by piece, slow starvation cauterizing myinsides, and I pounded my forehead, my good fist, against theground and wailed.

I don't know how long I lay there. Silence, my horriblecrying met with utter silence, and then I felt what I thoughtwas an insect brushing my face. No, not an insect—soft swollenfingers. A stench pressed in on all sides, I was fresh andsweet in comparison, but I was too tired to move and itcouldn't mean anything. I was all alone.

The fingers touched my ruined right arm, lifted it. It fellback with a soft thud. Chit-chit, I heard, a strange wet-dryclick like someone chewing a mouthful of popcorn kernels. Ipulled myself upright, and looked.

The whole right side of his face was smashed in, concaveforehead and crushed cheekbone and one eye bugging precariouslyfrom a broken socket. He was purplish-black, anddirty white: Maggots seethed from every pore and crawled across him in excited wriggly piles, blowflies waving andblooming and wilting, the bits of bone they'd scraped cleanglinting like tiny mosaic tiles. Scraps of jeans and a leatherjacket clung to the sticky seething mess of his flesh. He wasbig, big-shouldered, a good foot taller; chit-chitter, he went,even standing still.

Behind him were more stinking, seething masses shapedlike people, their skin in the thin moonlight every colorbruises go: some barely rotten at all, one shriveled and bonyas an unwrapped mummy, one so bloated and gas-blackenedit scared me. Standing right behind Bug Man was a halfskeletonwith wild dark hair and silver rings clinking on herfinger bones, eyes bulging nearly out of her head as she sizedme up, grinned and let out a loud, belching guffaw. They allgroaned with laughter. Their teeth looked the way mine felt,long and jagged and dull gray like tarnished blades.

I can't explain it. You can be a monster yourself and stillscream, puke, faint seeing what you are staring back at you,but none of it seemed monstrous. It was pretty, almost, theweirdest kind of pretty, seeing how they were all young or oldin their own inhuman way, how slowly and methodically thebugs took care of everything, how clean bones and pulsatingbrains were underneath the skin. How natural it all was. Butthen those teeth, so dull and dirty but a glint at the tips, if youlooked closely, the flash of a needle that could crunch throughbones and penetrate to the marrow. Under their laughter athrumming sound, not quite musical but not quite merenoise, and the longer I stared the more the shapeless sounds took on outlines, defined themselves, by whom I was lookingat: That one there, with the bleary laugh, a trumpet; the onewith the thin sad face, banjo; the black-haired scarecrow withthe rings, shrill strings. Bug Man's noise was louder and strongerthan the rest, so I mistook him for the leader. Electricguitar, that would blast you flat to the ground if you got tooclose.

I reached out and touched his face. Chit-chit, said thebugs. He grunted, almost belched the crude shape of words,a caveman with a rotted tongue—but soon as all that hrruhhrruh-mmmuhhhhh shot through my head it became wavesof sound, transformed radio waves, and then words preciseand clear as pieces of glass glittering on the beach.

"I'm Joe," he said. "Happy birthday."

The others mumbled something in turn but I couldn't hearthem properly just yet, only their noises that were almost butnot quite trumpets and banjos and strings. The smell of freshflesh wafted over me, and Joe the Bug Man stepped aside assomeone in a ragged black fedora emerged from the trees,something swinging from his hand, and dropped a warm furryjust-dead thing right at my feet. A possum, its neck neatlysnapped.

My stomach gurgled and Fedora Man snorted, walkingaway. Dark drops fell on the carcass, plink-plonk, and Joelaughed, reached out to wipe the black drool from my mouth."Go on. Eat."

I ate and ate and couldn't stop. Rich raw meat. Warmblood. Leftovers from God's refrigerator. When I looked up again, putting down the bones I'd been chewing to twigs toget at the marrow, they were all standing over me. The darkhairedone with the rings smiled.

"I'm Teresa," she said. Jerked her head toward a soft, bloatedgaseous mass with a lone lamplike eye and ragged remnants ofred hair. "That's Lillian. Remember her name, even if you don'tremember mine."

Lillian, the chieftainess, though of course I didn't knowthat yet. Teresa was her second in command back then, alreadyplanning, scheming. They both watched me crunch anotherbone down to splinters, then Teresa smiled.

"Good girl," she said. "Now, time to earn your food."

Her fists caught me in the jaw, chest, gut, and when theyall piled on me at once, my gang induction, all that meat camerocketing straight up again. Dry bony feet kicked me, squelchingrotting ones, and Joe sat there watching it all happen. Icrawled through a gap in the fists and feet, even one-armed itwas better than tottering on legs that would never work properlyagain, and I rose up and punched Joe hard in the gut andhe gasped, laughed harder, and hit me back more viciouslythan all the others. I hung on. Bones cracked, his and mine.They only pulled me off when we were both dizzy and spittingout mouthfuls of bilious dark blood, and even one-armed I'dpassed my test so well that Teresa, then Lillian, beat me upagain so I'd remember who was in charge. I couldn't move forthree days. They brought me rabbit, squirrel, the dog-ends ofdeer. They'd been needing someone new who could really fight, they said, and didn't hide their surprise that the someonewas me.

But there wasn't anyone to fight, not in the middle of nowherein a former county park with only squirrels and deerand each other for company. They were the first gang for me,the only gang, and so I didn't question why we all stayed outhere when other gangs routinely marauded in the poorer, unguardedhuman areas, the ones whose property taxes justcouldn't float guard teams and electrified fences and infraredvideo security, it's like they all want to be attacked, too bad,so sad, why don't they all just quit their goddamned whiningand move somewhere else?

"You broke six of my ribs," Joe told me, when I could standand walk again; he said it nose-to-nose clenching my goodarm hard enough to snap but there was admiration in hiseyes, that little hiss in his voice that someone gets whenyou're not at all what they expected, when they realize they'renot gonna get what they want without a fi ght and they like it.That singular sound of: Damn, woman. "Six. You stomped melike a fucking cardboard box."

"I'm hungry," I told him, and there wasn't any whining inmy voice, no please-feed-me, just a hard flat-out demand forwhat I required. He liked demands, I could tell already. Hearingthem, issuing them. "I'm always hungry."

"You're supposed to be."

He pulled me aside from the group, from everyone smirkingat us both. Florian, the walking skeleton with the watery blue eyes, he was the only other one of them I liked. "It's timeyou learn to hunt," Joe said. "I'll show you how. Lillian's a shithunter, don't let her tell you anything. You'll be good at it. Putsome of that crazy to use."

Plenty to hunt. Plenty to hunt far outside our attenuatedneck of the woods. Plenty of low-hanging two-legged fruitrotting on the vine in Gary and East Chicago and South Chicagoand parts of Hammond and Whiting, plenty of what Ikept being told, over and over again, secondhand, have heard,they say, everybody knows, is the only real meat. But turnsout, I didn't want brains, I didn't need hoos; meat was meat,any fresh kill would do, and it did for all of us, for all theirtalk.

"So just what the hell are we looking for?" I asked Joe onour first watch patrol together at the wood's very edge, sittingside by side against a tree trunk, not watching anything butthe wind kicking up the dry dead stalks of a neighboring cornfield gone to weeds. "There's nobody here. There's never anybody,Ben said, nothing but feral cats and every now and thena crazy-ass bum—"

"Do they still go around saying you can shoot us?" Joe interrupted,squinting into the painfully blue sky. High noon, thewhole rest of the gang deep asleep. "Guns don't work. Not pistols,not machine guns, not automatic rifles, never be afraidof any little hoo who comes at you waving a gun—"

"So Sam said." I'd started liking Sam too, not half so wornout and dusty as Florian but with so much wearier, saddereyes. "But they don't say that anymore. Didn't."

"Fire. That's it. Or a good stomp to the head, till your skull's kicked in." He folded his arms, a little humorous glint in his eye. "Like a flattened cardboard box. Otherwise you'll just crumble to dust, whenever it's your time. Stomping, or fire. Ever seen a crazy hoo-vigilante wandering around the woods with a flamethrower, thinking he's gonna toast our collective asses once and for all?"

"So what would we do then?" They don't go for controlled rural burns anymore, once they realized all that does is send the surviving "hazards" crowding closer and closer to hoo-territory. Gotta eat. Of course, hell with what the government does or doesn't do, all it takes is one crazy redneck with a book of matches. It's just been sheer luck. "By the time we see him, already too late."

"What do we do then?" Joe chuckled, still gazing up at the sky. "Mostly we die. But at least we die knowing who got us, and we don't die alone." He raked one leather-jacketed shoulder against the tree bark, working away at the ceaseless bug-itch of his own rotten skin. "Died alone once. I'm not doing it again." He turned to look at me, narrow dark eyes staring from a seething feeding sea. "Never. Ever."

I stared back, watching the perpetual movement of his skin as the maggots and flies crawled around and into every niche of flesh, made the worn creased jacket sleeves wriggle all of their own accord. Dead? Bursting with life, literally, all the life you could possibly want, that d-word applied to any of us was so ludicrous and willfully oblivious and just plain bigoted and how old and aged was Joe, anyway? Not by hoo-measure, but by our own lights? He'd said he died sometime in the fifties but couldn't remember just when. I'd forget too, he said, in time.

"I don't want to die alone either," I said. "Again."

Joe just laughed and shook his head. "Not a larva on her yet, and she's already hand-wringing—you have any idea how many decades Florian's got on you? Sam? You're a goddamned baby. You're so young."

"And you're not so damned old either," I said. Asked. Worried. "However much you brag." Silence. "Right?"

His eyes were adrift and lost in his own face, that whole ocean of insect life; I had to look that much harder at him to read his expressions, gauge his mood. Keep my attention on him constantly. If it had been me I'd have been creeped out, someone staring at me all the time like that, watching every last thing I do. Joe, he didn't mind.

"I'm not so old," he said, softly. Then he grinned. "And I can't drop even if I wanted to, now I've got a goddamned diaper-shitting baby to feed—"

I hit him, and he laughed again and louder and we wrestled until I shrieked for my arm, not my good arm, goddammit. The sky was pure cloudless blue that whole afternoon and the sun pressed in hard on dark-loving undead eyes but it was still beautiful, the sky, the woods, even that ratty old cornfield, all ours.

What the hell were we looking for? He never did answer that question. Him or anyone else.

They were the first gang, the only gang for me. Lingering out here in the middle of nowhere, years and years, shy kids at the perimeter of the playground, hiding and skulking when there was not a thing to hide from, there had to be a reason for that, it had to be some sort of deliberate strategy. I thought. It couldn't be that some of them stayed out here because it was easy. Because they really had been big noises in faster, stronger, more aggressive gangs, but they'd washed out or been thrown out or left thinking they'd be king hoo-killers all on their own, crowned and canonized, and it never happened.

Because they were old, some of them, older and dustier than they liked to say. Because they were young, and hiding was easier. Because they just didn't care for killing, not really, not once the hunger that never really left you got put in its place up on the shelf for another few hours, and that was a shameful thing even fleetingly to think so they just kept very quiet.

And then there was me. And now that I knew I could fight and that it wasn't hard to hunt I could have left any time, kept to myself for years or decades and avoided all the trouble that came after. I stayed because of Joe—his smile, the loud pounding music in his head, the way he hit right back and looked at me afterward with shrewdness, new respect, and then something more. Every time. What would repulse any sane human, the bugs, the smell, the casual brutality, the gleeful killing, meant less than nothing to me now. Even knowing then and later that I should have collected my strength and wits, turned around and left for good, no looking back. I stayed because of him.

Like I said, I was fifteen.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A different take on zombies

    Jessie barely remembers the day she died in a car accident. Her life did not end there. She is a zombie, but don't you dare call her that. She lives in the woods with a small pack of other undead, living and surviving in a sort of mock-society. They hunt, they sleep, they have a fearless leader. Then Jessie runs into her brother Jim, an uninfected human who works at a lab to research zombies. However, as Jessie's friends and acquaintances begin to get sick and die (again), she realizes something much more sinister may be at work.

    This book was SO gory! Seriously. But I suppose a certain amount of gore is to be expected from a book where the main characters are dead and rotting. Still... would advise against snacking while reading this one. There were some interesting bits on theories about what it means to be alive. Joan Frances Turner has obviously spent time thinking about zombies as dead or alive, and her characters reflect her deep thoughts. Her writing style was nice too - I thought it brought a specific level of calm and poetry to the lifestyle of the undead. Not a bad book, but I couldn't really get into the mind and life of Jessie.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2010

    Richly Developed Characters with an Original Storyline

    With shocking ingenuity, newcomer Joan Frances Turner has singlehandedly broken the mold-erasing the zombie stereotypes of uncommunicative, strangely empty and emotionless beings-and given the undead life in her debut "Dust". No longer will fans be limited to the B-movie imagery of solitary, brainless corpses who fresh from their graves, senselessly hunt humans in the light of the full moon. With a new and innovative twist, Turner gives us a terrifying insider's look.

    Limited to safety zones, fifteen-year-old Jesse Porter was raised with a healthy dose of fear concerning the undead, but she never imaged that she would experience their life.or lack of. Jesse's first birthday-reborn-was a very big deal as she watched in horror as her parents, who didn't get along well in life, fight for the scraps of a small unwitting animal. Faced with a range of emotions, including disgust, Jesse easily recognizes what she has become.

    Physically mangled and new to this life, Jesse considers herself lucky when painfully accepted into a small reclusive gang. A group-similar, in parts, to any average American family-with a hierarchy that she can cope with and accepts as her family. Happy for a decade, when her small unit begins to break apart, Jesse can no longer sit idly by and she quickly realizes that these new strange changes aren't only affecting her family. It is happening to the world because the key is in the connections.

    Richly developed characters and an original storyline make "Dust" impossible to miss.

    Reviewed by: Shannon Raab, Creative Director for Suspense Magazine
    www.suspensemagazine.com

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    first rate urban fantasy

    After not buckling her seatbelt, she died at fifteen in a car accident and was interred in a zone void of humans. She wakes up inside her coffin and though she has only one good arm as her right was almost severed off in the accident, she pushes her way out of the coffin and digs through the dirt. The teen immediately knows what she is: a revenant (zombie) and joins a pack of her kind. They live in a human-free zone where they hunt animals for food.

    Jessie is an undead who does not suffer from zombie amnesia as she remembers her previous mortal life though nine years have passed since she passed. She has feelings for those she considers family (past and present) though humans lock them away with putting electrical security fences their homes as if they were illegal immigrants and the police have standing orders to kill at first sight. However an inexplicable plague arises like none before as this pandemic disease can kill human and revenant. If a miracle cure is not found soon, both species will go way of the dinosaur turning into fossils and Dust.

    This is a first rate urban fantasy that "humanizes" zombies who are not mindless shark like predators, but a different sentient life form with feelings for others. Jessie is a strong willed resolute soul who thrives on coping with whatever splitter fastball life throws at her head. Readers will root for her while enjoying Joan Frances Turner's sensual revamping of zombie fever.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    Different+tale

    Not+your+average+zombie+tale.+Decent+read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2011

    Interesting idea, but doesn't live up to the hype

    I read this book from cover to cover only because I'm always trying to give an author a chance to make the story work (it felt like a chore though). Unfortunately, this one didn't work. I felt nothing for the characters in this novel, and found myself not caring what happened to Jessie throughout. The gore didn't bother me as much as her writing style, which seemed a bit awkward and stunted at times. Hopefully this author's next showing is an improvement over her first venture. I wouldn't recommend this book; save your money.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2011

    Run!!!

    The zombies are coming and run away from this poor attempt of a novel.
    Not worth the paper or internet space it takes up.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The sonnet of the undead

    This book has everything: undead, angry complex characters, gangs, survival literature, gore, relationships, love, hatred, apocalypse and all the human emotions amplified in the voice of undead Jessie.
    The story is excellent, and extremely well written.
    Beautiful book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2014

    Good read

    It was hard to put down. Different and imaginative.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    Tigerheart

    She waits outside. Her intention is to see the leader.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    F

    Blank

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    LEADERS DEN

    LEADERS DEN

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    Amazing until the end

    Loved the boom up until the ending. Amazing read but the ending just sucked.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    A queen

    Pads i falls down. "My kits are coming.... early"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book From Start To Finish!

    A Must Read For Zombie Fans! All The Gore And More!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    NOT RECOMMENDED

    Terrible book. Do not waste your time or money.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2010

    A Must Read

    I read this book on the Lend Me feature and I will be buying it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2010

    INCREDIBLE. ZOMBIE FANS MUST READ!

    Delving into the zombie apocalypse from the eyes of a zombie is BY FAR the most original and page turningly amazing, it even shows personalities that would surprise almost anyone. My only gripe is the length. a little too short.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 25, 2010

    I would not recommend

    I kept reading hoping to be pulled in or to care, all the way to the last page.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    I read this book twice

    I thought it was amazingly original, and I thought about it long after I finished it. To me, that's the hallmark of a successful novel.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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