My review of Joan Francis Turner’s second novel, Frail, can be found here.
I had difficulty getting through this book, to be honest, which was a sequel to the widely-praised Dust (a book told from the perspective of the Zombie). In Frail, the MC spends a lot of time with two (or three?) different types of ex-humans, and quite frankly, it becomes very tedious and difficult trying to tell them apart from one another. I have to wonder why the author required as many distinctions as she made (and if she required those distinctions, did she have to apply the same label – Ex – to all the different types of non-human creatures in the world? Because that made it very hard for the reader to keep these creatures separate.) But in any case, the writing style is somewhat interesting and I’m sure that the author will build from her initial premise. If we must have zombies (and it seems we must), we need some good writers out there who can tell the stories in new and unusual ways.
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.