February 25, 2019 by TinyNavajo
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
*Published April 3, 2018*
OH!!!!! This book was definitely on my to be read list since last year when I read the blurb somewhere and it sounded so amazing! I was able to get a kindle copy from my library a couple weeks back and I devoured it in about a day. Which is a normal reading day for me, but this was I just couldn’t put it down, it was that good!
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.
This was one of the best books that I have read this year already…I have a feeling I’ll be saying this a lot, but there are a lot of books to read and I’m good saying I have a lot of best books this year. I was a bit lost when I first started this book, because I didn’t pay enough attention to the timeline, but once I understood that we were still around the era of the Civil War, it made a lot more sense.
The dead have started to rise, starting at Gettysburg and spreading out from there. In order to protect those that can afford it, black children are sent to boarding schools in order to train and learn how to put down the dead and then be hired on as Attendants, those that protect the well-to-do. Throughout all of this, we see the world through Jane’s eyes and we see that while the dead have risen, the thoughts of white America have not changed; if anything, they have gotten worse as we see an experiment of a white “scientist’s” claims to have cured the dead to then have it tested on a black assistant.
We also see Jane get caught up in the politics of the region which leads her to not only question her place in life, but her place in society as well. This is a commentary on society then as well as society now. It definitely made me feel some unease, but I think that was the point of writing scenes like Justina Ireland did.
What books have you read that have altered the timeline of the US? Did you think it was done well, or not? Comment below and let me know!