Joanne Carlton is also known for her Dutch writers name: Sandra J Paul. She writes for as long as she can remember and started initially writing short stories in both Dutch and English. She used to publish them online, but in 2017 her debut Heart-beat was launched and turned out to be a huge succes. This young-adult story was followed by Kill me again and both were selected for the 2018 London Book Fair and Author Book Club Anthology. Dust is her third novel and shows again how varied this author is.
Simon James is one of the few people still alive after a severe natural disaster. Three outbursts of poisonous dust have killed almost all of mankind and in order to save it from extinction the government starts an hugely ambitious project including a new Adam & Eve. Volunteers were wanted, and Simon wasn’t one of them. He thinks. With hardly one day left alive he is lifted from his bed in order to save the world and enter The Cocoon to start a new breed. One that will survive. But Simon is not accepting his faith as the only survivor, not when everything he has ever known and loved is gone forever.
The story is told from Simon’s point of view and reading along we learn why he is reluctant to take the job as the one who survived them all, and what’s really the story with the dust and Ami. Simon’s part felt a bit stand-offish, as if he mentions it with less emotion as possible. Which, on the other hand, might also be his character. The story of the dust was surprisingly ingenious in its simplicity. I’m not a SF or Dystopian reader, but I do admire everyone who can make it a frightening realistic story. Joanne Carlton clearly succeeded here. It’s plausible in every single word and even if I did not like the twist at the very end, it’s still a very good one. Also the little hint of parental advice gave the story just that little bit extra.
Dust is an high-paced easy reading story which makes it perfectly suitable for young (adult) readers as well. The chapters are short and the language is not all too complicated. Even more Joanne Carlton knows how to keep te reader captivated, constantly wondering ‘what’s next and what exactly happened? Although one might know the answer to the question whether Simon will relinquish or not, it’s still not sure who Ami is and where this poisonous dust comes from. Although the story is set in 1996, years before this present time, it’s still very accurate and if the date wasn’t mentioned at the start of every part, it wouldn’t change the story a bit. This might happen in the near future. Which is a scary thought.
Dust is an ominous realistic story which might be happening just right now. The question, however, is: are you willing to survive or would you choose extinction? Or was is never a question after all?