Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Rating: 5 Stars
At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.
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, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education 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.
FRIENDS - I have hit it! My FIRST FIVE STAR BOOK OF 2023!
Words cannot describe how much I loved this book. From the first page to the falling of Summerland, this book was everything I could have hoped it would be and more. I loved the character development, the intrigue, the way that there were so many people in this book willing to stand up for what was right in the face of severe racism and prejudice.
Jane, the fierce and independent MC and narrator of this book, is, hands down, my favorite character. She is so strong and always willing to make her voice heard, even when she knows she's in a place where it could end very badly. The story takes a look at "post slavery" United States, which, of course, meant nothing during those times, and Jane knew that black people like her were still treated so badly and were seen as people who couldn't be susceptible to the zombie virus because they were black. That's crap, of course. Watching Jane and Kathryn stand up for what's right, even in the face of other people who don't believe her, and people who don't want to fight is amazing. Jane uses her fierce belief in what's right lead her, and helps her help Kathryn stay safe when they are shipped of to Summerland.
When I first encountered Kathryn, I wasn't sure how I felt about her. She seemed spoiled and arrogant, and her unwillingness to be flexible in regards to what it took to help the people around her (TAKE OFF THE DAMN CORSET!!!) But she grew as a character, I feel, and she really showed that she had what it took to fight hard to keep people safe in an unsafe place.
There was not only excellent character development and growth in this book, there was wonderful foreshadowing and story building. The way the author develops the whole story and builds up what's happening from beginning to end is AMAZING.
It's so amazing, it deserves all the awesome Schitt's Creek memes and gifs (minus the ones where Moira and David are being, you know, Moira and David.)
This book also looks at the way black people were treated during that time and develops the story and characters around that so that they are fighting on the side of right, and that's great. They're going into this world knowing that they are being treated unfairly, and they are doing what they do to let people know that's not okay.
The whole book was so well written and I will absolutely be reading basically anything Justina Ireland writes from here on out. The way she develops everything and fills in her plot and characters so well is worth it. This is a book I'd recommend to everyone who loves good writing, a well developed plot, great characters, and zombies.