Staff Book Review: Dread Nation

Book: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018)

Available as a book, CD audiobook, ebook, and digital audiobook.

Summary: Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania–derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. In this new America laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children to 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 American to the glory of its days. 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: This book is just fantastic! There is no other way to say it other than to tell you that you need to get this book in your hands now. Justina Ireland does a remarkable job of weaving a thrill-a-minute action/horror story that takes zombie killing and turns it into a vehicle for discussing deep issues of race and gender discrimination. The characters she creates, especially Jane, fairly leap off the page; their voices are unique and authentic all at once. Ireland’s writing is not only beautiful, but also snarky and richly detailed. This book is the perfect blend of nightmares imagined and (unfortunately) all too real.

Recommendation: This book is recommended for horror fans, western lovers, Walking Dead watchers, and anyone who appreciates a well-paced, well-written book that will keep you reading long past your bedtime.

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