Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Length: 12 hours (455 pages)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Recommended for fans of: zombies
Content Warnings: racism, violence
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.
This book is so unique and creative, unlike anything else I’ve read. I love the zombie twist on Civil War, Reconstruction, and Old West history. The way this book addresses race and gender feels both authentic to the time period and incredibly relevant today.
Jane was smart and headstrong main character, and I really liked how her friendship with Katherine developed throughout the book. All of the supporting characters were vivid and well-developed.
This book took some WILD turns I could not foresee, but it was so much more clever and entertaining than I expected. The audiobook was great, and I can’t wait to see what adventures book 2 has in store!