Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Dread Nation, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Dread Nation has been on my list at the library since I first heard of it, way back in May. When I saw that it was available at my local library, I went and snatched it up. It was on its last renewal, and I didn’t want to return it to the library again without reading it. It presents an alternate timeline of history, where the dead walk just two days after The Battle of Gettysburg began. It is also a powerful treatise on racism, colonialism, and what it really means to be human. This book is one of the best of 2018, striking straight to the soul and not letting go, not until the explosive ending. Thought-provoking, sharp, darkly funny, meticulously researched and diverse, Dread Nation is a zombie novel that I was waiting for my whole life. I can’t wait for the next book!
Jane McKeene was born two days after the dead began to walk at the Battle of Gettysburg, and as a result, The War Between the States is utterly derailed, normal life shattered forever. In a nation more frightened by the threat of the undead than one another, safety is placed in the hands of a few, and the laws such as the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children, once they are of age, to learn how to put down the dead for good, called ‘shamblers’. But with the laws come new opportunities that the children wouldn’t have otherwise. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, a guardian trained in weapons, fighting, and etiquette to guard the well-to-do from the undead; it is the only thing that could raise her status and protect her from society’s prejudices. But that’s the last thing that Jane wants: her only thoughts are for her mother and returning to her home in Kentucky, once her education is finished. But when people begin disappearing mysteriously around Baltimore county, Jane is soon caught up in a deadly conspiracy that could cost her everything she loves, against some powerful, secret enemies. Apparently the walking undead is the least of Jane McKeene’s problems.
This book; I had to take it back to the library twice before I actually had the time to read it, and I’m so happy that I was able to finish it before I had to take it back. It is easily one of the best books of 2018, and for good reason. A smashing combination of horror, historical commentary for the past and today, biting, sharp, hilarious prose with biracial and black female protagonists, killer fight scenes, and political intrigue and turns and twists around every corner—this book was fantastic. (Diverse books for the win, always!) The pacing was breakneck, the prose biting, spare, and sharp, and if I wasn’t cringing, or screaming, I was laughing, ever anxious to see what was going to happen next. The alternate timeline that Ireland presents was both exciting and terrible, and I didn’t realize just how much I wanted this kind of book until it was written. I mean, a combo of zombies and Civil War America? Genius! One of my favorite parts of this novel was that it was a timely and thought-provoking read on what it really means to be human, but especially a black, Native-American, or Mexican individual in a white, patriarchal society. Reading this book felt like being struck by lightning; it made me laugh, cry, scream, and think, and I recommend it to everyone. Get your hands on this book, read it, because I promise you, you won’t regret it. They say that fiction is a mirror through which we get to see different points of view, and I will never forget Jane McKeene, Katherine, or Jack Redbone; I feel like I found a little ragtag family in this book, and I can’t wait for the second one. Hands down one of the best books of the year, if not all time. ‘Nuff said. The bottom line: A thought-provoking, sharp and funny historical fiction novel that bends time and space, I loved Dread Nation, every little thing about it. One of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard!