Good Reads from Brilliant Books: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
“If you like zombies and history, this is the book for you,” says Anthony Ascione from Brilliant Books in Traverse City. “Dread Nation, written by Justina Ireland, gives readers a different take of ‘what could have happened’ if a zombie apocalypse occurred after the Civil War”.
Dread Nation takes place several years after the battlefields of Gettysburg were littered with bodies of both Union and Confederate soldiers, and those caught in between. The story follows the journey of a young, mixed, African-American woman, Jane McKeene who is trained for zombie battle at Miss Preston’s School of Combat. Even though the gears had shifted from the Civil War to a war against the walking dead, African-Americans are still treated poorly. In this fictional, alternative nation, there is the Native and Negro Education Act that requires children of color to attend combat schools for slaughtering the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do.
“In this book, there are still issues around race, even though there are much bigger problems to focus on,” explained Anthony. “One of the motivations for the main character’s actions is to ultimately gain citizenship and be treated as an equal”.
After returning to her home in Kentucky, Jane finds herself caught in the middle of a conspiracy, and has to battle both the walking dead and other powerful foes.
Anthony recommends Dread Nation for readers 14 and up due to the violence and historical references that younger readers may not understand.