Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Genre: Historical, Science Fiction
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

I definitely feel like Dread Nation fulfils a lot of the needs that the YA community has at the moment. The diversity rep is absolutely top notch, specifically in terms of race and sexuality. I could literally count on my fingers the number of books I've read where there is a major character on the asexual spectrum (The Bone Season and Radio Silence are the only ones that come to mind at present), let alone there also being a bisexual protagonist and multiple biracial characters.

The premise of Dread Nation is quite interesting. I really like it when authors do things like in this novel where they take an established idea and add a fresh twist i.e. historical based on real events + zombies. And this book does it very well, with the author's note making it pretty clear that she's done her research.

Certain sections of the novel did tend to drag a little, and I think the book may well have gotten a higher rating from me had the writing been a bit tighter. There's surprisingly no romance, even though there is an abundance of possible love interests. I did like this decision of not including any romance in book one, although it definitely seems to be hinting towards one in book two.

I'm very much looking forward to the sequel of Dread Nation. There's a clear direction of where the story is going, and I'm very excited to see how Ireland pulls it off.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5