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At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar - a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By NMwritergal on 04-06-18
Does what sci-fi does best...
...addresses current issues in society today in a well-told story with one of my favorite first-person narrators (Jane) in ages. Added bonus: Bahni Turpin is the audio performer.
Alternate history seems to be one of the lesser sub-genres in sci-fi, so I was happy to find this one. In this case, it's the U.S. after the Civil War, which ends abruptly when the dead rise from the battlefield at Gettysburg and start munching on the still-living soldiers along with anyone else they come across. The north and south decide it's more productive to fight zombies instead of each other. While slavery is now against the law, "negroes" are still viewed as little better than animals and are still enslaved, but in new ways. As teenagers, they go to combat schools so that they can protect their white "betters" from zombies.
While this is listed as YA, Jane is...18? The novel has none of the usual annoying YA hallmarks (e.g., no ridiculous love triangles, no overwrought swooning and longing over a love interest, no absence of adults). To me it read more like and adult novel with younger main characters, but all age groups represented--hey, just like it is in the real world.
The relationship between Jane and her frenemy Katherine (who can pass for white) was my favorite relationship in the book. This might be the first time I've felt like a frenemy relationship struck the perfect balance between "I like you, I don't like you." All the characters were interesting and well written.
This appears to be the first book in a series, but the ending was satisfying enough. It didn't end on a total cliff-hanger, which I absolutely despise. If I didn't read the second book (I will definitely read the second book!), I would at least know who lived, who died, and where Jane was headed next.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
By Dario on 04-06-18
Black folk wanna live during the apocalypse too
What I always wanted from a zombie story, plus I think I like westerns now? Also shout out for having a (my headcanon) ace character and a lowkey bi character. And yea it'll probably stay lowkey but that's fine I suppose it is par for the times.
Biggest thing going into it of course, is that this book is (southern) black. Both in subtle ways that make you feel welcome, and totally in your face, you're gonna have to think about the experiences of black people during this time. On and off the pages. Also the mirror of the way things are still today is very powerful.
P.S. Where did you go Mr. Redfern? I'll wait for you
23 of 25 people found this review helpful