Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1) By Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)
Author: Justina Ireland
Published: April 3rd, 2018
Length: 464 pgs.
Format Read: Ebook
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: ★★★★★ 

Dread Nation is in the first in a new series By Author Justina Ireland. The books is a YA, Fantasy, Historical fiction; taking place in the Civil War era, America Dread Nation ask the question what if?

Ireland answers it realistically. What if the Zombie Apocalypse happened during the civil war? I think we could all imagine some very different outcomes as a result. And that’s just what Ireland has done with her book Dread Nation.

How would our white counterparts have treated us if the zombie apocalypse occurred during the civil war? The current state of race relations in our country today tells me Irelands book gets it right. Dread Nation covers many of the injustices faced by African Americans during that period in history with an undead twist.

Loopholes in the 13th Amendment, allowed free negroes to be forced back into slavery after the civil war. And the cruel experimentation on negroes for the advancement of white society. The school of thought that blacks were not of the same species as whites. Using religion to justify slavery, and passing for white and the flipside dynamic to have skin which is “passing” light. Ireland dug into the historical Archives. There’s even some mention of the Native American boarding schools. Irelands fantastical take on slavery and racism during the Civil War era is as accurate as it is refreshing, interesting, and tasteful making Dread Nation an engaging and enlightening read.

In this version, of the civil war era United States; the Native and negro re-education act led to Negroes and Native Americans children aged 12, and older being rounded up and sent to boarding schools. At the schools, they were trained to fight zombies and eventually become servants for the whites who could afford to “employ” them upon graduation. The story hints that most of the Native Americans ran away from the schools. Still, a native American character does get a good bit of screen time in the book.

There are two factions at odds in the book Egalitarians & Survivalists. Survivalists believe negroes to be inferior to whites. Egalitarians don’t believe negroes to be inferior to whites. Mayor Carr & the Survivalist act as the villains in this tale, who makes a better Villain than a politician? Mayor Carr’s beliefs and political aspirations come before the safety of his constituents.

Born the biracial daughter of the richest white woman in Haller County Kentucky during the Civil War era; Jane Mckeene is the main character and heroine of the story. Two days after she was born the Zombies rose at the battle of Gettysburg and changed the course of her life forever. Because of Janes lineage, she was able to be sent to one of the ”upper-class” boarding schools.

Jane attends Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls in Maryland. Miss Prestons houses, the negro girls whose parents have the money to ensure they end up in the better schools, mostly biracial children.
Janes is a troublemaker she and the rules have a complicated relationship. I love Jane Mckeene’s Character. Jane is mouthy, independent, resourceful, and too intelligent for her own good. And as such, has an arch Nemesis that is the cliché do-gooder tattletale, Katherine Deveraux.

Katherine Deveraux is Passing Light. And perfect at everything thus Jane can’t stand her. When Jane and Katherine uncover a plot by the mayor that’s detrimental to the city she and Katherine are shipped off to a survivalist town. They’re in big trouble, and it’s up to Jane to get them out of it.

At the beginning of the book, these two characters clash, but it isn’t long before circumstances force them together. It’s during this time that we get to see each character’s true mettle. Both girls have secrets. Both girls hide the truth of who they are. By the end of the book, I’m thoroughly impressed by the real Katherine and shocked by Jane’s secrets.

There are some references to intimate moments between characters but no scenes of a sexually graphic nature. There is violence, and murder so if your sensitive to that kind of thing this might not be the book for you. But I think this book is pretty PG 13 and suitable for readers from YA to Adult.
I give this book five out of five stars. I love the premise. I loved the accurate and evocative historical references. And I loved that the main character looks like me. Dread Nation is a great book with a strong female lead of color, written by a woman of color. I highly anticipate the release of the second book.

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