Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
I Iove a book that’s fast-paced and exciting! I’m not one for action and zombies, but I enjoyed every second of Dread Nation! It felt like I couldn’t catch a break in between these chapters – so much was happening, and the plot just kept throwing in all this conflict that the story does not stop for anyone!
The writing is so charismatic and unapologetic, much like the main character herself. Jane is reckless and brash, yet intelligent and quick-witted. She has such a strong and distinct voice, and paired with an equally kick-ass companion (which, if I were being honest here, is an understatement since Katherine is equally as prominent as the protagonist herself), makes them the iconic duo we all need in our lives. The tension and dynamic between these two girls were done so well. The differences in their attitudes, along with the prejudice that they had to face made me root for them as a team even more. There was also a subtle and fairly brief LGBTQ+ rep within the story (which will hopefully be explored further in the sequel) which was not only refreshing, but so cleverly integrated within this apocalyptic setting where not only is a teenage girl’s opinion often frowned upon, but the freedom to express individuality in general is also very heavily suppressed.
That said, the story was centred around the girls’ friendship and their determination to achieve what they believe is best for not just themselves, but for everyone else around them. Romance is almost negligible in this book, which was another refreshing aspect of the story.
While I was mostly drawn to the characters in the story, the narrative was also heavily plot-centred, thus I am excited to learn more about the world in the next instalment. Hopefully we get to know more about the side characters too! This book seriously has the best of both worlds – a fascinating plot with epic conundrums and complex characters. The history behind the story is also one I’m unfamiliar with, which personally makes the story even more intriguing.
If you’re an action/adventure fan (or even if you’re a fan of neither like myself), I highly recommended picking up this book. There is something for everyone – kick-ass girls slaying zombies. A combat school, dramatic dressing gowns, zombies… it’s super fun and gritty, and let me just repeat myself – this story does not have a stop button. It just keeps going and going and before you know it, you’re 400 pages in and diving into the sequel head first!
If you’re interested in buying Dread Nation, you can click here to shop the book at Book Depository. I receive a small commission if you use the link! 🙂