Book Review: Dust by Kara Swanson

Last year one of my most anticipated reads was Dust by Kara Swanson, and it didn’t disappoint! The characters and prose definitely stood out to me the most, but I enjoyed all of the elements.

I’m far from the book’s target audience but still loved the story, and I think that’s the mark of good writing.

Characters

The characters definitely made the story for me. All of the characters felt incredibly lifelike, and while I didn’t connect much with Claire, I still really appreciated her as a dynamic and interesting character. Peter has to be my all-around favourite character.

Prose

I loved the prose, in part because of how silent it was. The prose never distracted from the story, but rather added to it in a way that flowed incredibly smoothly. As a writer, I’m actually hoping to go back and analyze a few sections to examine why the prose works so well.

Plot

I have to admit that the plot could have been more front-and-center in a few places. Especially during the second act, it felt a little wandering. Dust is a primarily character driven story, though, so it still held my attention even when the plot lagged. There weren’t any points where I felt bored or wanted to put the book down.

Setting

The majority of Dust is set in London, England. A few iconic locations show up (Kensington Gardens and Big Ben most notably), but overall the setting plays a fairly quiet role in the story.

Themes

Dust really packed a thematic punch, without being preachy or obnoxious. Themes about truth and belonging really stood out to me, but there’s a lot that can be unpacked in this story.

Content

Dust is overall an extremely clean book. There are a few fights that end with cuts and broken limbs, but no on-screen deaths. There’s no vulgarity or sexual content either, so this book would be pretty safe for pre-teens and up.

Have you read Dust? If so, what did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

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'Janet DuBois'
4 months ago

This was a great book review! I like how you’re honest about what you thought but not degrading! Thank you Jonathan, I want to read this book now 😀

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