Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

I don't know why I requested this book - I hate zombies! I guess I was probably swayed by all of the black girl kicking zombie butt action. I got that. I got that and so much more.

The great thing about going into a book with no idea what to expect is that it is so easy to be impressed and that is what Dread Nation did for me. We get kick ass characters - Jane and Katherine - but we also get narration that feels authentic, we get atmospheric horror and we also get that whole southern gothic historical feel and it all just hit the bullseye for me. 

It took me a little while to get into this book, so much that I put it down one day and didn't pick it back up for a week, still though when I eventually got into it I was into it and the pacing stayed up from that point on.

This book isn't just superficial though. There are racial undertones that in this day and age must be commented on. Look, I'm a white women, I'm not sure how much I am allowed to speak about representation for a whole-ass culture and race that I am not part of. I will say though that I loved what Ireland created just in the main character. Jane kicked booty, she was strong, stubborn and flawed and it made her so much more real. Even in an alternative history book with zombies, a realistic character makes it so much better. I also think that the lack of a humongous romantic subplot definitely made the characters stand out on their own.

There are some parts that missed the mark a little for me. Mainly that there are references to real events from the American civil war etc which I am not knowledgable in. Still, that's not exactly the author or the book's problem, mainly mine.

Overall, Dread Nation was a really fun book to read, but at the same time it was important culturally and socially. 

Book released  3rd April 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

1 comment

Tell me your thoughts on the post, the book, the world. I like volcanoes, feel free to tell me about volcanoes.