Audiobook Review: Dust by Joan Frances Turner

18 05 2012

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Read by Eva Amurri

Penguin Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 57 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Perspective

Quick Thoughts: Dust is at times lyrical, and often mind numbing, yet always beautiful and compelling. Turner stays true to the grueling, visceral nature of the typical zombies yet leads us in directions that opens up new windows into their souls. Dust is a must read for those looking to shake off the normal trappings of an often stagnate genre, and experience something that is utterly different and refreshing.

Grade: B+

They say in order for you to truly understand someone you need to walk a mile in their shoes. I’ve always agreed with this sentiment, and have tried to live according to it despite that petty larceny arrest. As a huge fan of Zombie fiction, I tend to look at the Zombie as an enemy, and for good reason, at least on the surface level. I mean, zombies spread disease, their moaning makes it hard to sleep at night, and they have an annoying little habit of trying to eat my flesh. Perhaps, this is knee-jerk xenophobia. Perhaps, if I walked a mile in their rotted, disease ridden shoes, I would understand them better, and accept their cultural differences. Recently, I have read a few novels from the Zombies point of view. In fact, two of these novels, Warm Bodies, and Raising Stony Mayhall, made my end of the year favorites. I think, listening to these novels have given me a new perspective. Zombies can fall in love, have empathy, care about their fellow undead scavenger, and fight to remedy the social injustice leveled at them simply because of what they eat, and how they smell. Of course, being that what they eat tends to be our brains, and entrails, well, I think the social equality for Zombies movement has an uphill battle.

I knew I would need to listen to at least one Zombie perspective novel and I ended up choosing Joan Frances Turner’s 2009 novel, Dust. Dust is the story of Jesse, a young, former vegetarian, who is now a member of an undead gang called the Fly-By-Nights. Jesse and her gang spends most of their time hunting animals in their territory, and dealing with internal and intra-gang struggles while trying to avoid the humans flame throwers, until one day a not quite dead, yet not truly alive girls shows up, changing everything. In Dust, Turner violates all the rules of traditional Zombie literature, turning the genre on its head, and creating something fresh. As you begin to get a handle of Turner’s versions of the undead, she again gives the genre a spin, sending her world into an apocalyptic spiral. Turner never allows you to get comfortable in her world, as the undead rules begin to change and evolve so does the dynamics of the characters, along with the pacing and style of the novel. What starts out as straight forward prose, takes on a lyrical, dreamy quality, as the changes Jesse and the world began to undergo has her questioning everything. Dust is at times lyrical, and often mind numbing, yet always beautiful and compelling. Turner stays true to the grueling, visceral nature of the typical zombies, describing in loving and often disturbing detail their eating habits, the rotting of their flesh and their unquenchable hungers, yet leads us in a direction that opens up new windows into the souls of zombies. Dust is a must read for those looking to shake off the normal trappings of an often stagnate genre, and experience something that is utterly different and refreshing.

Eva Amurri gives an interesting performance in her reading of Dust. She has a wonderful, off beat voice, that suited Jesse well, plus allowed her to give interesting twits to all the other characters. I loved how each voices was given their own sort of cadence, particularly the members of Jesse’s and rival gangs, who almost seemed to have their own rhythmic patois. In the early parts of the novel I did struggle a bit with her pacing. Much of the early action was read in a hyper kinetic way, almost like she was speed reading. This worked well with the world of the Fly-By-Nights, showing the rushed violence of the hint and the brutality of the initiation rites, but it sometimes was a bit overwhelming. As the novel evolved, so did Amurri’s narration, taking on an almost sing songy quality as during some of the more dreamy segments of the narrative. Overall, Amurri’s narration kept me mesmerized, often matching the narrative flow perfectly. Sadly, Turner’s follow-up to Dust, called Frail, is not available in audio, but Dust works well as a self contained stand alone, so that should not keep people from listening.

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2 responses

18 05 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I had no idea that DUST was from a zombie’s POV! I used to have a copy, but I think it may have ended up purged, I may have to look into getting it in audio, now.

20 05 2012
Zombie Awareness Month Recap: Week 3 Update « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] Dust by Joan Frances Turner (Audiobook) […]

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