by Joan Frances Turner
Review by Charity J. Sands
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441020706
Date: 04 October 2011 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Amy's had a rough life.
First there was the zombie apocalypse. Then there was the plague. Somewhere in there, her mother disappeared from her life, though she keeps hoping to reconnect to her.
Now there are very few people left in the world. The creatures that are left are Ex-es of one kind or another - either ex-zombies or ex-humans affected by the plague. Amy's prospects seem to pick up when she meets Lisa, an ex-human who still retains a capacity for sympathy that the ex-zombies fail to exhibit.
This book is not for the squeamish. Amy inhabits a gruesome and depressing world in which she is powerless and she and the few other people around her are essentially enslaved by strong and brutal ex-human creatures. She must deal with her own struggles as she tries to accept the horrifying choices she's made in order to survive this long and as she clings to the hope of seeing her mother again someday - the only shimmer of light in her dark world.
Yet perhaps there is a reason that she has stayed human - perhaps she and the other "frails" have more strength than the ex-es realize.
This book took a turn away from Dust, the author's previous novel told from the point of view of a zombie, and some readers will be disappointed by the switch. Amy's life is far more oppressive and the book tackles issues that are more difficult than you'd expect in a typical YA novel. The author might have benefited from clarifying the different types of ex-es, as they seem to meld into one another at times and its hard to keep them straight. The story is told with vivid, sharp prose and the author creates a world that will be hard to forget.