Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Fiction, Horror – Zombies
Publication: April 3rd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Series: Dread Nation #1
Length: 464 pages
Format: ARC from HarperCollins International
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.
Huge thanks to my friends from HarperCollins International for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
Historical Fiction, whether it be written for teens or adults, has never been my strongest suit. I’ve mostly avoided this genre not because I have no interest in trying it out, but because of sheer intimidation. History’s always been one of my favorite courses way back in college, but in Fiction, I feel like there’s something about it that just subdues me. But when you tease me with a book that’s equal parts history-rich and zombies… Now that’s different. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is just that. And I’m so glad that I gave it a shot! Read on to know my thoughts on this socially diverse, one-of-a-kind book.
One of the many reasons as to why I picked this book up is because it no doubt reminded me of The Walking Dead (one of my most favorite TV show only until after a specific death), and Red Dead Redemption (which happens to be a video game that I’ve played countless times). Something about the possibility of living in a world filled with the undead and running for your life definitely exhilarates me. I don’t know why this is so, since I’m sure I’d be dead in a day or less should shamblers walk the Earth. But the idea of surviving with only your wit, survival skills, and a few weapons intrigues me so much. Not only that, but I’m also very much curious to see how other people, especially my family and friends, would change due to the adrenaline and desperation that would come with the presence of the undead. With all that said, I can only imagine how weird you must think I am. Thankfully, Dread Nation offered me a fictional world quite as thrilling as I imagined it would be.
As for the typical stuff that I highlight, I was very much impressed by how fast-paced Jane’s story was and the unique writing style that helped give Jane such a distinct voice. With every page, I found myself increasingly engrossed with Jane’s story, and seeing her grow into a fierce, ambitious woman. I had loads of fun being in her headspace, and I also enjoyed seeing her go through such compromising situations just to see her plans through. I also liked getting to know Katherine, and Jackson, and I liked seeing their friendship go through so much just to find freedom and liberty from racism. I can’t wait to see how their relationships will develop in a future story and so this definitely makes me very excited for the sequel.
I can’t talk about the accuracy of the historical aspect of the story (since I obviously know next to nothing about the topic) but I have to say that I was absolutely fascinated by the details presented in Jane’s story. Since I rarely read books from the Historical Fiction genre, I’m quite sure that this is the first book I’ve read about American history and I grew fascinated with it. It made me so much more curious about history, in general, and I’ll hopefully continue to read about systems that entailed Native American children being sent to boarding schools where they could learn to be “civilized”. I love how this book opened up another part of my brain that can hopefully enable me to read more about these kinds of topics.
“Dread Nation’s so much more than just your average, American history-centered book. It highlights an amazingly fierce woman for a protagonist, living in a morally deranged town run by racists. Jane’s story tackles enragingly modern themes and topics such as oppression, violence, and racism, and it symbolizes most of the reasons as to why I love to read. Whenever I open a book, I want it to make me feel something. And that’s exactly what I got in Justina Ireland’s newest book. No doubt, the shamblers will terrify you, the same way the politicians and other persons of authority will. It will also have you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens next. Dread Nation’s highly recommendable especially for those who adores fast-paced, thrilling stories.”
Have YOU read Dread Nation yet? If not, be sure to grab a copy from your local book store now and read it! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!
JM is a 21 year old blogger from Manila. He has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management mainly because it was too late when he discovered that literature and publishing is his true calling. He enjoys reading contemporary and fantasy novels as much as he enjoys playing video games and baking pastries. You may find him on his book blog, Book Freak Revelations, also on Twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads.