Dread Nation

Dread Nation

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. B...

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Title:Dread Nation
Author:Justina Ireland
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Dread Nation Reviews

  • Heidi Heilig

    This is what i'm envisioning after every zombie slay.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    Honestly, black zombie hunters in the Reconstruction era is definitely the best historical fiction concept of all time. And the fact that this totally, completely lived up to my hopes?

    I think this is a book action fans are going to enjoy.

    Honestly, black zombie hunters in the Reconstruction era is definitely the best historical fiction concept of all time. And the fact that this totally, completely lived up to my hopes?

    I think this is a book action fans are going to enjoy.

    may be a full 450 pages, but I felt like this book never stopped moving. I even felt - and I never say this about 500 page books, because

    - that I could've broken a reading slump with this. I solidly enjoyed every moment I spent reading.

    Beyond the nonstop action, I adored our two lead characters. Yes, I said two lead characters, but for once the other lead isn't our badass girl lead's love interest - she's her girl best friend. THANK GOD.

    , our lead, is a fantastic actress, fantastic liar, and even, at times, a slightly unreliable narrator. And she loves dragging people. And she is the bi icon we all need in our lives. While I somewhat wished she has a more solid character arc - you all know me and my character arcs - her character has such a strong voice that I ended up loving her anyway.

    , a character so developed I'd almost consider her a protagonist, is

    . She's black, but light skinned enough to pass as white, something that leads to resentment from her fellow trainees. Also, she's established quite clearly as ace-aro without the terminology being used, which: A+.

    Besides the nonstop action and the character work, the best thing about this book is probably

    Jane and Katherine's friendships originates from a plotline involving slut-shaming, girl competition, and Jane's own internalized dislike for lighter-skinned black people being

    subverted. And given that there's

    the friendship between Jane and Katherine serves as the centerpiece of the book. And the themes around racism are so well-done - this is an ownvoices book and it definitely shows.

    Okay, and also, a rant: hooooooo boy, I am such a slut for history. This is

    The worldbuilding is full of nods to history. The use of terms like the Five Civilized Tribes, “War Between The States,” and “War Of Northern Aggression.” The entire thematic point of the combat schools for black and indigenous people. Deep South States are now called Lost States of the South due to lack of patrols and lack of winter during which dead lie down, the mention of germs as a controversial idea and idea of an original Gettysburg strain and a transferable Custer strain, the scientific racism developing around “coloreds,” the conflict of party-based Survivalists vs the Egalitarians, and the little details of the worldbuilding, like the fact that carriages are called ponies because all the horses have all been eaten - it's all there and it's all

    YES, I AM A NERD. LEAVE ME ALONE.

    While there's a cast of intriguing side characters, something I really enjoyed here is that for the most part,

    While characters like Professor Ghering and Miss Duncan are given dimension, the lens of the book falls mainly on characters like Red Jack, who are actually

    with the problems caused by slavery. It's both a realistic aspect, considering Jane narrates, and an aspect that I really appreciate and haven't seen in enough books thus far.

    As several comments on negative or mediocre reviews of this book seem to imply that people only like this book because they respect the author, I want to clarify that at least for me,

    . I have had no trouble in the past giving negative reviews to people I respect, and frankly, it seems disrespectful to both Ireland herself and to the positive reviewers on this page to imply that people only liked the book because they like the author. Like, dude, if you don't like this book that's fine, but don't get offended by the fact that other people

    like this book? Maybe they just disagreed with you. Come on.

    Listen, diverse YA historical fiction is really bringing back literature right now. It's not a coincidence that all three of the BR Squad -

    ,

    , and I - gave this a full five. Not only is this book relevant, especially now, it's also just one of the most enjoyable books I've read recently. I can hardly wait for

    to release. I don't even know how I'm going to wait for the sequel - reread, maybe? But either way,

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  • destiny ☠ howling libraries

    This has been on my "most anticipated 2018 releases" since the first time I saw its cover. A hist-fic/horror book about a young black woman killing zombies during the Civil War era? Gimme! Let me tell you the first thing I learned, though: this is not a book about zombies. This is a book

    This has been on my "most anticipated 2018 releases" since the first time I saw its cover. A hist-fic/horror book about a young black woman killing zombies during the Civil War era? Gimme! Let me tell you the first thing I learned, though: this is not a book about zombies. This is a book

    zombies, but first and foremost, this book is about racism.

    If I could convince you to pick up any 2018 release, to add anything to your pre-order list, let this book be it. In fact, I'd consider it entirely forgivable if you stop reading this review right this moment just so you can scurry over to Amazon, or BookDepository, or whatever site of your choosing, and click that pre-order button, because this book is incredible, witty, hilarious, dark, intense, suspenseful, and most of all,

    My god, what do I even say about Jane? Jane is the most delightful, witty, self-deprecating, hilarious, insightful, strong-minded, brave, selfless, and

    heroine I have read in such an incredibly long time. I don't believe I've loved a heroine so much since first meeting Katniss Everdeen nearly a decade ago. Jane can go from making you laugh in one moment to tearing up the very next. There were even a couple of times I found myself, out loud, saying, "No, Jane! No! Nooooo!" because she's so fearless and stubborn.

    In the beginning of the story, there's a bit of bad blood between Jane and Katherine; Katherine doesn't much care for Jane's wildness, and Jane can't help her varying shades of green envy over the fact that Katherine, despite being biracial like Jane, is light-passing enough to get treatment the rest of Miss Preston's girls will never see. We see very quickly that Jane is self-aware enough to work past the girl-on-girl hate, though, so it never felt like a petty trope as it may in some other stories.

    While Katherine is never the star of the show, she really develops tremendously as a character, and by the end, I was rooting for her just as much as I was for Jane.

    You may be inclined to think, "Oh, it's a zombie book - the zombies are the villains!" and, with most books, you'd be right, but not

    The zombies are the looming threat, of course, but the scariest monsters are the white people parading themselves around, treating the black and indigenous peoples like cattle to be branded, sold, and worked to death. Jane's story offers a perspective on some of the less-discussed aspects of how black individuals have been treated, such as having medical experiments tested on them, being accused of sharing more biological makeup with animals than humans, or being worked unfairly with laughably little pay.

    What is perhaps the worst part of the things these awful people say throughout the book is how familiar some of it sounds even today. There is still so much racism going on in this society, and

    offers important insight into the fact that, just because slavery has ended, does not mean we live in a post-racism world. There's even a fantastic nod to the arguments many people have against things like equal opportunity employment and Affirmative Action plans, through the words of one of the white men in Summerland:

    [slur]

    In case you didn't know,

    racial representation is own-voice. As a white woman, obviously, I cannot speak for POC on the rep in this book, but what I can say is that it felt wonderful, and bold, and beautiful. This book does not apologize for its blackness, and it warmed my heart so much to see these words and feelings on paper. Jane's story is going to make a

    of people uncomfortable, but to be fair, we all need to be pushed out of our comfort zones every now and then; otherwise, we never learn and grow.

    Jane talks and thinks a

    about her skin color, because it affects literally every aspect of her life. She explains how she is biracial, and how desperately she wishes she looked white, like her mother. She recognizes how much easier her life would be if she was light-skinned. She addresses internalized racism and the fact that she fears some of her acquaintances have taken up the white men's views only because it is all they have ever known, and it is easier to be the white man's "pet".

    There is also representation for Native American individuals, and talk of how poorly treated they have been over the years. We get to spend a short amount of time with a man who Jane describes as "the most remarkable man I've ever seen", and there is even a bit of discussion regarding how he was forced to take up a "white" name in order to fit in more properly.

    On top of the racial rep, there is also a bit of diversity in the sexualities represented; there's brief passing mention of bisexuality, as well as a reveal that one character is on the ace/aro spectrum. There isn't much exploration into either of these aspects, but it's viewed as perfectly normal in Jane's eyes.

    I simply cannot say enough good things about

    I'm

    myself to shut up now, because otherwise, I could literally ramble at you about this story for days. The bottom line is: this is an amazing story of a strong, heroic young black woman killing zombies, protecting her friends, missing her family, and doing everything in her power to dismantle the white supremacy that has caged her and her loved ones for so long. It is beautiful, important, and one of the singular best books I have ever had the pleasure of picking up. I feel so incredibly privileged to have been granted the opportunity to read

    early and will be pre-ordering my finished copy as soon as I finish this review. I can only hope you will do the same.

    racism, sexism, violence, gore, death

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    Buddy read with

    and

    !

  • Melanie

    Mark my words, this is going to be one of the biggest books that 2018 will offer, and it will be completely deserving of every award it will win.

    is the perfect mix of action and suspense, while always having oppression be at the forefront of the story. This book was thought-provoking, moving, intense, so very well written, and completely and

    Mark my words, this is going to be one of the biggest books that 2018 will offer, and it will be completely deserving of every award it will win.

    is the perfect mix of action and suspense, while always having oppression be at the forefront of the story. This book was thought-provoking, moving, intense, so very well written, and completely and absolutely enthralling. This book was nothing short of amazing and it’s one of the best things I’ve read this entire year.

    Jane McKeene is a sixteen-year-old girl, who has never known a world where the dead don’t walk among humans. And I use the word “walk” to really mean that they are zombies that will bite you and make you into one of them to continue on their never-ending killing spree. They can be fast, they can be smart, but they will always be very deadly.

    Jane grew up on a plantation in Kentucky, where her mother actually runs the plantation. Jane is biracial (black and white), but her mother tries to keep it a secret that Jane is her daughter. There are other women who help raise and take care of Jane, but once she turns fourteen she is taken to Massachusetts to attend Miss Preston’s School of Combat. And that’s where the story truly takes off.

    Just like actual history, even though slavery is abolished, white people come up with different ways to keep people of color as slaves, but just without the title. The blacks and Native children in this world have to go to combat schools to eventually protect the whites from zombies. Miss Preston’s School of Combat is actually one of the better schools, and Jane is learning to become an attendant, which means she will watch over a rich white woman and protect her at all costs upon graduating and/or purchase.

    Jane isn’t sure if this is the life she wants, even though she doesn’t have many options. All she knows that she wants to get back to Kentucky and see her mother and the people she loves again. But Jane soon enters a world of conspiracy and sabotage, filled with people who warp religion to do their racist bidding. Jane then quickly realizes that humans are far more dangerous than the zombies that she’s been training to kill.

    This story is told in two parts, and in a very unique way. Between each chapter there is a letter either from Jane or from her mother. This helps weave the story together, and lets you know more about Jane’s past and what will become of her future. My heart broke more and more as the correspondence went on, but I also found myself more and more desperate for more letters. I not only loved this story, but I love the way the story was told. I want to read everything by Justina Ireland.

    This book mirrors the society we live in today and makes you think about all those uncomfortable topics that people would rather ignore and pretend do not exist. From prison systems, to black lives matter, to systemic racism, this book is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, specifically white people. But it’s the kind of uncomfortability people need in this day and age when we are normalizing hate speech and passing it off as free speech. Where we are living in a world where white supremacists can rally and spread their hatred at no cost, but black people fear for their life when being pulled over by the cops. Our country cares more about trying to stop football players kneeling for that injustice than doing anything to actually fix it, while also trying to misconstrue their protests as something that it isn’t. We need this uncomfortability and, more importantly, things need to change.

    The racial diversity in this is so important, too, because not only is this book unapologetically black, it also heavily talks about what it is like to be a black person that is light enough to pass as white. What it feels like to feel like you don’t belong in either community, because you’ll be reminded that you’re not “black enough” and because people will constantly remind you that you’ll never be white. I have a very close friend who talks to me about this, and it’s just something that is near and dear to my heart and I love that Justina incorporated this element on top of an amazingly diverse cast of characters and while also having important discussions that reflects the world we live in today.

    Also, Jane is so not straight! I don't feel comfortable giving her a label, but I do personally feel like she identifies under the bisexual umbrella. But it is important to note that there is not a relationship between Jane and another girl on page.

    And there is a major character that is part of the ace community! I can’t personally speak about this representation, but I thought it was very thoughtfully done. Plus, we need so many more stories that just normalizes sexuality. And even though I think authors are being better about LGBTQIAP+ representation, I still find it harder to find asexual characters. Even though this mention is brief, I loved this inclusion.

    If you want to read a book about black girls killing zombies and putting a stop to white power-hungry men (because who honestly wouldn’t?) please give

    a try. And I hope if you do give it a try, that you will take something from it and help to raise and support marginalized voices.

    This all being said; this review is coming to you from a very white and privileged reviewer. I would love to post some own voices reviews here and celebrate 1.) how truly amazing this book is and 2.) how PoC’s voices are the ones that matter and, more importantly, are the voices that need to be heard. Because you all might think a lot has changed in 2017 from 1865, but it really hasn’t.

    (5:30)

    (If you’re a PoC who would like to have your review listed on mine, please DM me on any platform!)

    I honestly can’t sing this book’s praises enough. And please, Justina, give us more of Jane and this world! I loved this story with my whole heart. And I completely agree with

    that HBO should scrap their gross version of the American Civil War with

    and just buy the rights to this book immediately. This book is powerful, this book is beautiful, this book is life changing.

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  • Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)

    I just want to preface this review by saying I think this book is

    It's historical fiction with zombies, sure, but it also centers on a very strong, biracial woman. I can't speak for the representation as a whole, but I will say I

    how unapologetic Jane is.

    Taking place in an alternate US where zombies rose up during the Civil War, this

    Jane is a st

    I just want to preface this review by saying I think this book is

    It's historical fiction with zombies, sure, but it also centers on a very strong, biracial woman. I can't speak for the representation as a whole, but I will say I

    how unapologetic Jane is.

    Taking place in an alternate US where zombies rose up during the Civil War, this

    Jane is a student at 'Miss Preston's School of Combat' where she trains to fight the zombies (or "shamblers") for 'privileged white folk.' She's also razor-sharp in how she's precisely aware of how others perceive her.

    This also has some

    as both mains are (very different) young women. Jane initially resents Kate, as Kate is more traditionally feminine, and with lighter features that allow her to "pass." Not only do these two learn to work together, but their initial dislike and Jane's assumptions are

    But as amazing as these discussions were-- and as much fun as the zombie slaying was,

    It honestly felt like two different books combined into one, as the entire first half is dedicated to a setting and characters that rapidly shift to something entirely different. Instead of a linear plot that builds

    instead relying solely upon character arcs while chaos occurs.

    (Side note: I loved how smart and intuitive Jane was, but she also somehow seems to correctly guess

    )

    Jane's letters back home are intriguing and tell a completely different story in-between chapters-- but it adds up to

    Sadly to me,

    much of this build up led to a tiny (and kind of random) conclusion. There's a lot of set up for the rest of the series, but there's still something dissatisfying about how completely

    everything is.

    I have a feeling this is going to be one of my most unpopular opinions, as I can see this being very successful (and I hope it is!) But while there were so many

    things about this book, the haphazard plot

    detracted from them for me.

    I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! Thanks to Balzer + Bray for the opportunity! (Quotes not final!)

  • shady boots | #TeamMizCracker

    Originally started as a buddy read with

    but she wasn't into it so I went ahead and finished it myself. :p

    I thought this had a pretty strong start. I was really enjoying it up until around the 40% mark. From then on, my interest sort of waned. I guess its partly due to the whole zombie thing; let's be honest, they're not the most exciting supernatural monsters to read about. Most of the time they're just lumbering, brainless things designed to move the plot forward and provide action scenes.

    Originally started as a buddy read with

    but she wasn't into it so I went ahead and finished it myself. :p

    I thought this had a pretty strong start. I was really enjoying it up until around the 40% mark. From then on, my interest sort of waned. I guess its partly due to the whole zombie thing; let's be honest, they're not the most exciting supernatural monsters to read about. Most of the time they're just lumbering, brainless things designed to move the plot forward and provide action scenes. I'm afraid that was still somewhat the case with this book; the author didn't do anything new or interesting with the zombie mythos, they're pretty much the standard ones.

    The world of this book besides the zombies wasn't that intriguing either. I felt very uncomfortable reading this book a lot of the time, but that's to be expected. Any fictional media that tackles racism is bound to be very unsettling to read, especially ones that take place in an era of history where slavery and the dehumanization of black people was still in its heyday, as is the case with this book. It's not pleasant to revisit this time period, but it is one that's rarely seen in YA, especially from the point of view of the oppressed, so I have to give kudos to the author for that aspect.

    It also highlights that even in a world crawling with zombies, the real vile creatures will always be the same: straight white men. (LMAO I'm totally kidding! 🤣 But seriously, straight white men scare the crap out of me nine times out of ten)

    The main reason I stuck around was for the protagonist Jane, who I really liked. She's strong, intelligent, witty and feisty. I really enjoyed her personality, and I also liked her friendship with her companion Katherine. I sort of felt falsely advertised though, because a lot of the buzz from this book came from the fact that it had an aro-ace (aromantic, asexual) main character, but

    I figured I should mention this because I didn't want anyone else getting misconceptions and then get disappointed. Throughout the book, it's pretty clear that Jane exhibited a lot of physical and emotional attraction to a few of the male characters.

    Then again, I'm not sure if aro-ace people are still able to experience sexual or emotional attraction, so if anyone more well-versed in the subject, or if any of you actually

    aro-ace yourself, then I implore you to educate me on this. I'm always eager to learn more.

    I think that's all I wanted to say, really. I enjoyed this book for a while cause I grew attached to Jane, but other than that I wasn't all that invested in anything else. I wanted more queer representation, as the buzz for this book claimed there would be, but alas there was very little of that. The ending was vaguely cliffhanger-ish but I don't think I'd be interested in future sequels personally.

  • ☆♥☆Kotyonok♥☆♥

    Initially I wasn’t going to read this because I had absolutely no interest in it, but after seeing

    because apparently you can’t give a black author anything less than 5 stars (see the comments of the review, how pathetic. How fucking pathetic.) because of a "power imbalance", I’ve decided to read this.

    Because I’m brown and we all know because of that I cannot be racist and have no fucking power in society, hence I live in a van down by the river after I escaped th

    Initially I wasn’t going to read this because I had absolutely no interest in it, but after seeing

    because apparently you can’t give a black author anything less than 5 stars (see the comments of the review, how pathetic. How fucking pathetic.) because of a "power imbalance", I’ve decided to read this.

    Because I’m brown and we all know because of that I cannot be racist and have no fucking power in society, hence I live in a van down by the river after I escaped the concentration camp Trump put me in because I’m from the Middle East and get spit on by white people that give 3 star ratings to books by black authors everyday. Also I identify as a potato-cat and am misgendered everyday and I sexually identify as Scarlet Johanson's tampon.

    My oppression is real.

    So now I’ve read it. I see reviews saying it’s going to be one of the biggest books of 2018.

    It’s not of a high enough caliber nor does it have a compelling enough summary (let alone story) to come anywhere near to getting big.

    It’s not necessarily bad, just boring as hell. Either I got the Boring AF Edition of this book, or people are just hyping it up because "BLACK AUTHOR BLACK AUTHOR DIVERSE DIVERSE BLACK MC!!!!111!!"

    I think it’s the latter.

    Also quick disclaimer, no I am not rating this low because of personal opinions on the author. Now it's true I don’t like that unprofessional twat, and I’ll admit I was going into this worried my bias would make me nit pick everything, but that wasn’t the case. I didn’t nit pick. I actually didn't have many notes on this book.

    I generally start an audio book off at 1.0 speed at the beginning, then move it to 1.25 near the middle, then 1.5 from the middle to end. With this book, I kept increasing the speed at the beginning and ended up putting it at 2.0 speed just to get it fucking moving because it WASN'T fucking moving. (Side note: even at one point I had it at 2.5 speed. And yes I understood it just fine at that speed.)

    (It reminded me a lot of

    in a way.)

    I actually quite liked the MC, Jane, at points. She had sass and funny internal thoughts, but other than that she falls pretty flat. I enjoyed this other character a lot more, Katherine, who is actually black but has white skin, so she’s "passing" white. She was the most interesting character to me because she provided a different perspective, she walked an interesting line in society and had trouble figuring out to which group she belonged to (white or black that is). Ultimately she’s on the side of the black people, but she’s seen by society, which at the time is right after the civil war, so it’s very racist, as white. I really liked this character, and I loved the development of her relationship with Jane. She’s probably the only character who’s situation can be interpreted as commentary to today’s society.

    Which brings me to another point I keep seeing people make on this book—that it’s "very important" 🙄 and has substantial commentary on race.

    Here’s the thing fellow shitheads. If you’re going to write a book that has some sort of commentary on society, your best chance at doing this is 1) writing a dystopian 2) writing a contemporary or 3) some third option I haven’t figured out yet like a satire or some shit. A historical fiction is the worst possible way to do this because it usually doesn’t work.

    Now I saw an interview by Justina Ireland saying she wrote this historical fiction with an anachronism in it, that like the musical

    , the anachronism allows for commentary on society today.

    Ireland says in the interview,

    Full article:

    ....

    It worked for

    . It didn't work for you Justina sweetie.

    This book actually didn’t complain about white people as much as I thought it would—what the hell's up Justina, you disappointed me XD. And any complaints or anger the MC has is justified because, again, the time period.

    Then there’s the matter of the MC being bisexual. Now I don’t care what sexuality she is, but I did take pleasant delight in seeing people praise this "rep". Why? Because it’s so fucking hypocritical.

    The same people that bash SJM for not having diversity, and that the one non straight character she had, Aedion, was only bi off page. On page he’s in a straight relationship, so people had a problem with that. But isn’t that the same thing here?

    ....

    How. Fucking. Pathetic.

    And this double standard really takes away from your argument my shitheads. If you’re going to call something out, then be damn consistent and call it all out. Or just keep your damn mouth shut because your double standards aren’t fixing anything, it’s just virtue signaling nonsense.

    The romance in general was bland and pointless, the love interest was absent for most of the book and the MC was apparently already in love with him before the book. So it was a whole lot of telling not showing and the guy was just plain useless.

    Would I recommend this book? No, but don’t let that stop you from reading this.

    If you liked it, good for you.

    I didn’t and that’s that.

    1.5 stars.

    Happy Triggering shitheads.

  • softlykaz

    a fantasy story about black zombie hunters in the reconstruction era, featuring a bisexual girl and an aro-ace girl?? TAKE ALL MY MONEY

  • Sabrina The Trash Queen

    I need this book, well I need a lot of books but I NEED THIS!

    Badass female protagonists that kills ZOMBIES 🧟♀🧟♂??

    That’s all I had to know to want to read this book📖.

    🤑🙀I’m ready!

    I need this book, well I need a lot of books but I NEED THIS!

    Badass female protagonists that kills ZOMBIES 🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️??

    That’s all I had to know to want to read this book📖.

    🤑🙀I’m ready!

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