By Justina Ireland
Balzer + Bray, 2018, 451 pages, Young Adult Horror
In the middle of the Civil War, the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, changing the fate of the nation forever. Instead of gaining their freedom, African Americans and other minority groups are expected to become Attendants (zombie hunters), trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the wealthy. Almost finished with her education at a combat school, Jane looks forward to returning home and fighting for the freedom of her plantation. But when families around the county start to go missing, Jane is the only one willing to look into their mysterious disappearances
With a strong African American female lead, this book is being hailed for its diversity. This was my favorite aspect of the whole book. The author forces the reader to look at the question of race and slavery in a different way, and I thought it was excellently done. But this novel isn’t just a commentary on racism; this is also a zombie novel. The premise of this book is tight and interesting; and the mystery Jane solves is fascinating and horrifying, and it kept me guessing. The cliffhanger ending left things a bit too unresolved for my liking, especially since it involved zombies threatening to take over the world! It’s going to be hard to wait patiently for the next book in the series.
If you like action/adventure/horror novels, or historical fiction told from a new viewpoint (one of my favorite examples of this is Under a Painted Sky), you’ll find something to like in Dread Nation.