Monday, September 14, 2015
Jessie is a teenager who died in a car accident with her parents and rose up with them as a zombie. Instead of worrying about boys or school, she worries about enough food to eat and where she is on the pecking order in her zombie gang in Calumet County, Indiana. Despite the obvious negatives of being a zombie like losing limbs and rotting away, Jessie's existence is pretty normal. She has people she cares about who are like her and a place in the world. Unfortunately, some people don't understand this and that misunderstanding will put world-altering events into motion.
Dust is an odd book that I don't entirely like or dislike. It's more of an experience that I'm glad I had. I enjoyed many aspects of it. The zombies are quite different than a lot of other stories. Zombies have existed for hundreds of years at this point, but throughout history, their populations haven't been big enough for anything amounting to more than rumors. Now, zombie gangs roam around, eating people and animals along the way. The zombies have many physical differences from humans: elongated sharper teeth, larger brains, slower decomposition rate, and alternate ways of communication. Since zombies are largely too damaged to speak, they have brain radios that communicate through music. Each person has their own particular tune that changes with their mood or state of mind. Sometimes they all spontaneously dance together to their unique music. This sounds cheesy, but it's well written and beautiful in the book. Zombies have different classifications depending on their state of decomposition. 'Maldies are zombies who were embalmed and beautified. Feeders are infested with bugs. Bloaters are in the second stage of decomposition where gas is released from the intestines. Dusties are zombies in their last stage before death when they are mostly dried out. These new zombie aspects were the most enjoyable part of the book.
Jessie didn't get to live very long as a human, but she enjoys her zombie life. She has friends; she's good at fighting; she sort of has a boyfriend. She feels complete and has a place in the world. Her sister just assumed that because Jessie is a zombie that she is suffering and unhappy. With no way to communicate, this isn't an outlandish assumption, but it leads to the devastation of both human and zombiekind. A new disease makes their differences practically disappear. Humans start eating raw flesh until they're sick. Zombies regenerate and start to breathe again. Once the disease progresses, the vast majority of the infected die.
This is the part where the book loses its way. Instead of a coherent story, it goes off into an odd, existential direction where death speaks to Jessie. People are thought dead and then come back to die again and come back. The ending kind of just falls apart and I had to work to finish. It's supposed to be dream-like and surreal, but the plot just screeches to a halt. The first 3/4's of the book did a great job of building the world and developing it. The one problem I had with the beginning was that people still buried their dead. It's undeniable that zombies exist, so why isn't cremation or the removal of the head standard? Burying the dead just contributes to zombies that will eat people later. It just doesn't make sense in this world. Dust does some new and interesting things with zombies, but because of the last bit of the book, I have no interest in continuing with the series. I'm glad I experienced it, but I have no desire to return to that world.
My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins