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Review: Dread Nation

Dread Nation

Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Genre: YA Paranormal, Horror, Fiction
Page Count: 464
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Date Published: April 3, 2018
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


In this Civil War era reimagining, the dead walk the earth, and thusly ended the war as both sides turned their collective attention on the new threat. Jane McKeene is a student at Miss Preston’s, a combat school for Black girls to be trained in both weaponry and etiquette. Her goal is to be assigned to a wealthy white family where she will be tasked with their safety and protection from the undead plague.

That was before her world, and all she knew, came crashing down. Families are going missing, her mother’s letters are not being returned and Jane is desperate to fight her way home to Kentucky. But this zombie reimagined world is no different than our own past, a young black girl holds no power against the corrupt white male oppressors. Using her whit and strength she battles evil both real and undead as she journeys to freedom.


This book is powerful. This book is brutal. This book is bloody and holds absolutely nothing back. If you are a fan of horror, paranormal, and/or zombies – you’ll definitely discover a new favourite here.

But this book is so much more than a brilliant historical fiction civil war era reimagining. It is a soul wrenching, honest look at the treatment of Black people, the story of slavery, and the terrifying reality that these prejudices and injustices still exist for black people today. This book is in no way easy to read (or listen to in my case) but is profoundly necessary.

The basis of this novel is cemented in very real history, not just the fight for freedom, but the “civilization” schools that were set up following the civil war, to “educate” Native Americans. Simply put, white organizations enforced familial separation, abuse, and brutal labor upon indigenous peoples. Justina Ireland used her research into these schools as the basis for Miss Preston’s school in this novel.

Justina Ireland has done a fabulous job combining the very real, brutal, and violent racist history of America’s civil war with a bloody, zombie filled fantasy headed by a kick ass heroine and excellent world development. The narrative is very deliberate and the pacing builds slowly. I do feel like the novel just … ended, and would’ve enjoyed a bit more conclusion, but it sets up for an excellent sequel. Exciting, bloody, brutal, LGBTQ+ representation (including very rarely seen asexual and bisexual characters), heart pounding, completely original, this is definitely a worthy read (audiobook is also excellent).

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