Title: Deathless Divide
Author: Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #2
Genre: Historical Paranormal Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Narrators: Bahni Turpin & Jordan Cobb
Length: 15 hours (560 pages)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Recommended for fans of: zombies + historical fiction
Content Warnings: racism, death, gore
The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
Like Dread Nation, Deathless Divide did not go in the direction I expected, but boy did it take me for a wild ride!
This book adds Katherine as a second POV narrator, for plot reasons. Jane and Katherine change a lot throughout Deathless Divide (which includes a 1.5 year time jump midway) as they process the events of Dread Nation and further traumatic events at the beginning of this book.
Even though this book portrays a fictionalized American history plagued by zombies, it explores the racism and discrimination faced by Black people, Native Americans, and Chinese immigrants with accuracy and nuance. Ireland did a phenomenal job of adapting the prejudices of the time to her fictionalized version of events.
The zombie vaccine storyline hit a little too close to home, although this book was published pre-COVID. I was not a big fan of the main conflict in this story. Ireland took a misguided yet sympathetic character and turned him into a fully fledged villain, and I just didn’t like the way that arc played out. I was also a bit underwhelmed by the resolution of Jane’s complicated relationship with her mother.
This series is so cool and unique, and I highly recommend it to readers for a totally different YA adventure!