When families go missing in Baltimore County, Jane McKeene, who is studying to become an Attendant, finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that has her fighting for her life against powerful enemies. - (Baker & Taylor)
New York Times bestseller * Six starred reviews
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.
Please note that this book has deckle edges (the edges of the paper are purposely rough).
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 Negro and Native 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.
But that’s not a life she 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 desperate fight against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
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.
*Starred Review* Ireland delivers a necessary, subversive, and explosive novel with her fantasy-laced alternate history. America is changed forever when the dead begin to prowl battlefields during the Civil War. The horror births a new nation and a different type of slavery, in which laws force Native and Negro children to attend combat schools and receive training to put down the dead. Jane McKeene attends Miss Preston's School for Combat in Baltimore. She studies to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette, to protect the white well-to-do. For Negro girls like Jane, it's a chance for a better life; however, as she nears the completion of her education, she longs simply to return to her Kentucky home. But when families around Baltimore go missing, Jane finds herself entangled in a conspiracy that results in a fight for her life against powerful enemies. Ireland crafts a smart, poignant, thrilling novel that does the all-important work of exploring topics of oppression, racism, and slavery, while simultaneously accomplishing so much more. It explores friendship, love, defying expectations, and carving out your own path instead of submitting to the one thrust upon you. From page one, Jane is a capable, strong heroine maneuvering through a world that is brilliant and gut-wrenching. This will take readers on a breathless ride from beginning to end. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Just days after Jane McKeene, notoriously known as the daughter of a white plantation-owner mother and an unknown "Negro" field-hand father, was born, the Civil War became a war between the living and the undead when bodies began to rise on the Gettysburg battlefield. Now seventeen, Jane is about to complete the combat training required by the Native and Negro Reeducation Act established in the aftermath of the Great Discord. Soon she will seek a position as a white society lady's Attendant, a chaperone/bodyguard providing protection from scandal and "shamblers" (the undead) alike. Her tendency to break the rules—including sneaking out to help her disreputable friend Jackson search for his missing sister Lily—gets Jane and snooty classmate Katherine shipped off to the Survivalist (read: white supremacist) outpost of Summerland to be Attendants on the frontier (read: zombie fodder). But upon arrival, Katherine's "passing light" appearance provides the girls with a handy, if distasteful, cover story—Katherine is a new-to-town white lady and Jane her Attendant—as they gain the sheriff's trust, look for Lily, and uncover the town's sinister secrets. 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 (and biracial and bisexual) heroine; as zombie fiction suspenseful and gory enough to please any fan of the genre; and as a compelling exhortation to scrutinize the racist underpinnings of contemporary American sociopolitical systems. An author's note discusses the history of exploitative Native American boarding schools, the real-life basis for Dread Nation's combat school system. katie bircher Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Fighting the undead is a breeze for Jane, but the fight for freedom? That's a different story.The Civil War is over, but mostly because the dead rose at Gettysburg—and then started rising everywhere else. Now the dangerous task of killing these shamblers rests on black people and Native Americans taken from their homes and forced into combat training schools at a young age. Jane McKeene, a black teen born to a white mother, is nearly finished with her training. She's fierce with a scythe but longs to find her way home to her mother. However, her plan is thwarted when she and her friends run afoul of a corrupt mayor and are sent to a Western outpost called Summerland. Sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface there, and the more Jane discovers, the more determined she is to escape, especially as the shamblers keep multiplying. All the classic elements of the zombie novel are present, but Ireland (Promise of Shadows, 2014, etc.) takes the genre up a notch with her deft ex ploration of racial oppression in this alternative Reconstruction-era America. It's no coincidence that the novel will prompt readers to make connections with today's racial climate. With a shrewd, scythe-wielding protagonist of color, Dread Nation is an exciting must-read. (Historical fiction/horror. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
In this alternate-history horror tale, shortly after Jane McKeene was born, the dead rose and attacked the living, effectively ending the Civil War. A reunified army fought the shambling hordes until Congress passed the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, requiring adolescent children of color to train for battle. At age 14, Jane—who is mixed race—enrolled at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls, hoping to avoid conscription by becoming a socialite's bodyguard. Three years later, Jane is close to earning her attendant certificate when she, her ex, and her rival stumble across a dastardly plot hatched by Baltimore's elite. First in a duology, Ireland's gripping novel is teeming with monsters—most of them human. 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 that inspires and will leave them apprehensive about what's to come. Ages 14–up. Agency: Donald Maass Literary. (Apr.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—Slavery comes to a halt when the dead on Civil War battlefields begin to rise and eat their compatriots. The north and south put aside their philosophical differences and join forces against the undead. They are aided in their efforts by the passage of the Native and Negro Reeducation Act which forces African American boys and girls into combat schools. Graduates from these schools are a buffer between the living and the undead. Jane McKeen is a biracial girl sent to Ms. Preston's school of combat to obtain an attendant certificate. Jane is about to graduate when her friend, Red Jack, asks for help locating his sister Lily. Jane's attempts to discover Lily's whereabouts land her in a survivalist colony. Survivalists advocate a disordered view of natural selection that places Jane firmly under the thumb of a vicious sheriff and his psychopathic family. Jane is tasked with finding a way out of Summerland not only for herself, but also for those she loves. She must make some unlikely alliances of her own if she is to survive long enough to find her own path to freedom. This is a fictional exploration of the chattel slavery and American Indian boarding school systems. Ireland skillfully works in the different forms of enslavement, mental and physical, into a complex and engaging story. VERDICT A perfect blend of horrors real and imagined, perfect for public and school libraries and fans of The Walking Dead.—Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH
Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.