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Dread Nation Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 3, 2018
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From School Library Journal
“Ireland delivers a necessary, subversive, and explosive novel with her fantasy-laced alternate history that does the all-important work of exploring topics of oppression, racism, and slavery while simultaneously accomplishing so much more. Brilliant and gut-wrenching.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Abundant action, thoughtful worldbuilding, and a brave, smart, and skillfully drawn cast entertain as Ireland (Promise of Shadows) illustrates the ignorance and immorality of racial discrimination and examines the relationship between equality and freedom. Mounting peril creates a pulse-pounding pace, hurtling readers toward a nail-biting conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Will catch readers off-guard with its blend of genres: it starts out as an historical thriller but then tosses in hard hits of mystery, dystopian reimagining, romance, and humor. Jane’s voice reads familiar to more contemporary considerations of Black girlhood, with elements such as beauty standards, colorism, and friendships.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))
“This absorbing page-turner works on multiple levels: as unflinching alternate history set in post-Reconstruction-era Maryland and Kansas; as a refreshingly subversive action story starring a badass heroine; as zombie fiction suspenseful; and as a compelling exhortation to scrutinize the racist underpinnings of contemporary American sociopolitical systems.” (Horn Book (starred review))
“Ireland skillfully works in the different forms of enslavement, mental and physical, into a complex and engaging story. A perfect blend of horrors real and imagined, perfect for fans of The Walking Dead.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“Tremendously original, subversive, sharp, and all around badass, Dread Nation is not your mother’s Civil War–era zombie story.” (Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Dumplin’)
“Dread Nation is everything I love—it’s beautiful, unflinching, lyrical, tender, and vividly imagined. Don’t miss this book!” (Ann Aguirre, New York Times bestseller and coauthor of Honor Among Thieves)
“This is the zombie novel I’ve been waiting for my whole life.” (Kate Elliott, New York Times bestselling author of Court of Fives)
- Lexile measure : 870L
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062570609
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062570604
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.41 x 8.25 inches
- Reading level : 14 - 17 years
- Publisher : Balzer + Bray (April 3, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #77,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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They squig me out. Like, ridiculously. I can't even make it through 10 pages of any zombie novel let alone 5 minutes of a zombie film.
I bluddy loved Dread Nation.
Justina Ireland is one of the bravest, snarkiest, most phenomenally talented voices in the industry and her newest novel, examining racism and its text/subtext/hypertext, is a stand out read that you cannot ignore. Between her richly written characters (who jump off the page as fully-fleshed out, realistic people that you feel like you not only already know, but want to just be around) and such a PERFECT touch at world-building the reader is lost and doesn't want to come up for air at any point.
This. This is the historical "what if" about the Civil War that we - that you, everyone out there in the internets - want.
Don't miss out.
First, I loved this book. I’m writing this weeks after I read it, and I’m still thinking about it. I really liked Ireland’s PROMISE OF SHADOWS, but DREAD NATION is such a leap forward in complexity and craft that’s amazing. I really am in awe of this book that shows us a alternate history of the United States during reconstruction, but reflects our country as it currently exists. Her mind for satire is sharp (and not The Onion hahaha funny headline satire, but the satire of dead serious reflection), and the action is AWESOME and terrifying.
I love Jane, the MC of DREAD NATION. She is thoughtful, and impulsive. She is caring, and hateful. She is hilarious, and dead serious. She is such a complex character that she felt alive (insert zombie joke . . .) Her voice felt authentic for the time of reconstruction, but it didn't feel dated or stilted. Her voice was W.E.B. Dubois, Mark Twain, Hariet E. Wilson, and of course Justina Ireland stirred together into a perfect amalgam - poetic at times, sarcastic, and truth throwing always. And Jane is surrounded by fully realized characters from friends and family, to politicians, scientists, and community members. Their relationships feel real, and are at the core of the book.
The world building in DREAD NATION is incredible. Justina Ireland knows her history. She knows the culture of the times, popular entertainment, mindsets of people in all levels of society, and science. You feel like you're living in a fully realized world, and as her alternate history shaped by the uprising of the dead during the Civil War progresses you see that she has thought through not just the BIG parts of society and history that would change, but even down to the smallest details (and if this doesn't have a sequel, a series, and HBO show our world will be poorer for it).
One of my fave world building parts that took me by surprise was a piece of classic literature. At one point Jane has a copy of the big new book of the time, Tom Sawyer, and it didn’t occur to me how much the book would have changed if Twain was writing during these times. I just thought of the book that I read when I was in school, but nope. Tom Sawyer in this alt-history is of course dealing with mischief, but instead of getting kids to paint fences for him, he’s out dealing with zombies and death, and all with Twain’s humor.
We see a bigger part of her world-building in Jane’s combat school. Jane is torn away from her home and taught to battle zombies ("shamblers") while maintaining perfect manners. Though what Jane learns best is how best to usurp all authority as they try to train her to protect the status quo. The schools are based on the real life schools Native American children were forced into to kill native culture, and re-educate them in accordance to Westernized ways of thinking and living, and like those schools her combat school has well-meaning teachers as well as cruelly manipulative. But it's apparent that the "Negro and Native Re-education Act" is put in place so that Black and Native children become a product to protect and serve white people. They maintain white supremacy in a country that is falling into death and chaos. They’re meant to preserve the status quo in a world that would be better served, and might better survive, if it made changes that would value all their people, instead of just the privileged.
Of course the school is just the beginning, but as we go out into the wider world with Jane we are confronted with race and racism, science that dehumanizes and experiments on Black people, politics, medicine, communities surrounded by walls with leaders who want to make America great again, passing privilege, deconstruction of beauty standards, privilege, education, code-switching, and deciding who we really want to be our leaders. Who we need to be our heroes.
And really, seeing Jane as a hero, Black and epic and proud in this book, is revolutionary all on its own, aside from how brilliantly conceived this books is. Jane is going to change teen readers’ perceptions. I can’t wait to share it with my students, and looking forward to summer reading lists that include DREAD NATION, and really school curriculums that could build entire classes around unpacking the world Justina Ireland created. Anyway, long story short, I liked the book, a lot . . . obv. I wonder if I could get my school system to adopt it to read side by side with another zombie classic we can't stop teaching, To Kill A Mockingbird. No joke. New personal mission : )
The life of an Attendant is most certainly a grueling task and Jane is a young woman who plies her craft well for her utmost survival. What made me love the main character so much is how flawed of a woman she is as we witness her moments of hubris, vulnerability, jealousy, and other traits intermixed with her heroism. Jane is a black woman who is careful of the optics which surround her and most certainly knows how to pull the "okey doke" in the realm of white supremacy. She deceptively tones down her keen intellect, her brassy attitude, and her deadly potential to put the minds of her oppressors at ease when she is far beyond the boundaries that they ignorantly believe her kind to be capable of. It's a tiresome and frustrating tactic having to conceal one's true potential, but its one that keeps her safe and her enemies for the most part unguarded.
Miss "Rich White Woman", Miss Katherine Deveraux was a standout. Like Jane she's also an Attendant, but unlike Jane she possesses a special trait that eludes Jane which is her proximity to whiteness. With her light skin, softened and loose hair texture, and her eurocentric features, she is seamlessly able to navigate the surroundings of her oppressors with ease. She, like Jane is a strong woman worthy of a true Attendant who rises above her peers. She also makes one fine Nemesis as their personalities differ like night and day. She carries the makings of a exquisite woman, with the personality to match. Beyond her fair complexion, she possesses has a Je ne sais quoi about her that has men falling over themselves, and leaves Jane mad with envy and insecure about herself. I empathize with Jane for her feelings of jealousy. You cannot help but feel the way she does when you have the entire world saying you're undesirable for who you are. Even by today's standards, Its the fair and light being placed to the forefront. Admittedly, I hated people like Katherine growing up. The light, bright, damn near white, ones who think by just the way that they look, they are somehow better when at the end of the day, you will never truly be one of them. Katherine however had proven to be furthest thing from that. As someone consciously aware of her privileges, She used her natural traits and her upscale "boujee" behaviour as a means to ensure survival for herself AND for Jane. She had absolutely no time for the affluent, privileged, and downright racist community that she was forced to become a part of, and with each passing day could read that it ate away at her. I grew to adore Katherine just as much as Jane. The dynamics between the two were so organic and despite their differences, these young ladies had more in common than they were willing to admit.
There were times where I had to put the book down because I felt a deep seated feeling of anger at the treatment Jane was forced to go through. The obstacles she faced for being who she was took me back to some of the unfair experiences I faced as a black kid growing up. With the times, the ugliness of racism truly never dies. It simply evolves into something more concealable, not so blatant, yet equally as painful. Even in the face of what seems to be the end of days, they STILL must find a way to be on top! It was frustrating to read, but it strengthened my connection to Jane. As Wise Lady Whitley Gilbert would say, "I know this woman." I see elements of Jane in the mother who raised me, the older sister who protected me, and the "down for anything" bulldagger cousin who jumped in to take over a fist fight I was losing. I had to pace myself not to get through with this story to quickly because I sincerely did not want it to end. Its been so long since I've read something that I could Identify with. Finding stories with strong and BELIEVABLE people of color who arent side cast as the sassy, matronly, stereotypical, non believable, and ultimately forgotten types are genuinely hard to find. I was truly blessed to have both Children of Blood and Bone and Dread Nation at the same damn time, in the same damn year. Bless you Justina! I was truly honored.
Top reviews from other countries
From the blurb, I expecting the story to remain in Miss Preston’s School of Combat where it begins, but the story went in such a wonderfully unexpected direction that I found myself constantly surprised.
The heroine is witty and her voice is full of dry humour. The action scenes are also really well written and I loved reading how the fights unfolded, which is something I don't normally enjoy in the books I read.
- Very diverse cast of loveable characters - the main characters are our black bisexual mc and her black aro-ace sidekick, both women
- Sinister setting and very gripping plot
- The change in historical period, in terms of how people understand diseases and science, adds a fun and unique twist to how people understand and deal with a zombie apocalypse
- Lots of wonderful, cathartic moments of badassery from our protagonist Jane
I really enjoyed this book and fell in love with Jane's voice right from word one. It starts with the protagonist telling us how the midwife tried to murder her on her first day of life and from there the narrative just keeps ramping up the pace. We're quickly introduced to the other main characters and given a brief but informative history of the years since Gettysburg alongside some well-paced action sequences, before gradually being drawn into a mystery surrounding the sudden and unexplainable disappearance of a local farming family. Suffice to say it isn't long before Jane, her co-student Katherine (don't call her Kate), and one-time beau, Red Jack, find themselves stumbling headfirst into a mite more trouble than they expected.
While it is possible to read this book as nothing more than a popcorn-fuelled historical fantasy zombiefest, I really do believe doing so would be an injustice. Justina Ireland paints a vivid, almost shockingly sober account of what life was like for people of colour, and especially women of colour, during the post-bellum years in the States. Take away the zombies and the combat training, and Jane could just as easily be any young woman of colour from that period, and her experiences wouldn't have been all that different. I couldn't help but draw comparisons between this and Octavia E. Butler's Kindred, and while the approach taken by each book may be very different the end result is still a harsh indictment of the way most white people treated anyone who wasn't white.
This is a book that will, if you let it, make you think quite deeply about what's going on in the background. It's superbly written, and the character of Jane is one who will stay with you long after you've turned the final page. I'm giving it a solid four stars and waiting eagerly for the next book in the series.
This was actually a really interesting and unique read and although i've only rated it three stars, which seems low, I did enjoy this book overall. There were just some issues in it for me that made me feel unable to rate it five stars.
This is a very character driven book; it almost feels like a filler book because it is so centered on the characters and barely the plot. There's almost no tension in this book and virtually no action; yes there are a couple of bits of them fighting the hordes but other than that it's almost a period drama. I did enjoy it, but it felt largely unnecessary at times. The plot is interesting, but not really developed on throughout the book which makes this feel very much like it was intended to be a middle book but somehow got shunted to the front.
This book has some really good representation; LQBTQ with Jane being bisexual (I think - it's never explicitly stated buy she mentions relationships with males and females) and Katherine being asexual (again not stated but she discuses having no sexual attraction to anyone). Although it is mostly about zombies, it's a really important historical read and I would highly recommend it. There are also some real discussions about feminism and typical femininity with Katherine; the MC Jane and Katherine are both extremely different women and are probably polar opposites for the main part. They don't just get over things but actually work through their differences and issues as they arise. This doesn't mean that they don't still have their issues, because they definitely do and it is delightful to watch.
Overall I liked this read and will be keeping it on my bookshelves for now, but I wasn't hooked by it.
In 1800s America, a zombie plague has risen up from the civil war and black people are forced to go to combat schools where they learn how to fight and kill zombies for the protection of white people.
Enter Jane McKeene, a Brave, strong-willed student at Miss Preston’s combat school.
What I love about this book is that it’s more of western that just happens to have zombies in it. You’ve got bandits, bounty hunters, lawmen (woman), but from the perspective not often told in historical-like (especially Westerns) novels, black People.
I also love that the main character are all strong women and they get to do all the fighting. The book also has great lgbtq representation.
Young black woman zombie hunter takes on white supremacy.
Utterly utterly riveting. Ireland has really thought through the ways in which white liberal people were willing to sell out Blacks in Reconstruction and used that to think through what would happen in a nation only part way into emancipation if a major external threat arrived.