Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Edit: This book has been called out by the American Indians in Children’s Literature for being insensitive to Indigenous people and the author has been accused of pitting indigenous people against each other. For those reasons I am editing my star rating on all platforms and will no longer recommend this book to others.

Disclaimer: I bought this book! Support your authors!

Book: Dread Nation

Author: Justina Ireland

Book Series: Dread Nation Book 1

Rating: 1/5

Diversity: main mentions liking at least one girl, asexual side character, African American leads, girl power!

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (language, gore, violence, sexual mentions)

Publisher: Balzar & Bray

Pages: 455

Amazon Link

Synopsis: 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

Review: Holy cow. I thought this book was amazing! I loved the plot and I loved how well written it was. The character development was on key as well and I fell in love with Katharine and Jane. The book was rife with representation and analogies (and sometimes flat out references) to the racism that is still deeply rooted in our country. The spin on history was fun and interesting to see, and honestly it fit in with the time period very well. I think this book will be one that sticks with me and one I will reread multiple times.

This is the part where I talk about the “negatives” but I really don’t have one with this book. I’m heavily anticipating the second in the series and I felt really drawn to the story since it had two of my faves (the Civil War and Zombies). For the sake of fairness, I will say that some of the battle scenes were a bit short. That’s just being nitpicky at this point because this book has won/was nominated for several awards and it rightly was so.

Verdict: Give me zombies and the civil war and I will give you my first born child.