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Dread Nation
Cover of Dread Nation
Dread Nation

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • Justina Ireland is the author of Dread Nation, Deathless Divide, Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and the Star Wars novel Lando's Luck. She enjoys dark chocolate and dark humor and is not too proud to admit that she's still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at www.justinaireland.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 29, 2018
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Bahni Turpin brings to life the barely restrained sarcasm of Jane McKeene, the bold heroine of the first in this alternate history series. Jane was born to and educated by the white mistress of a Kentucky plantation. When the dead of the Civil War rise from the battlefields and become a threat, Jane, like all blacks and Native Americans, must train in weaponry to protect the whites. Turpin's rendition of Jane's first-person voice illuminates her pluck, resilience, and wit. These traits are as crucial to Jane's discovery of sinister secrets in a survivalist camp as they are to her comments on oppression and racism. Turpin moves easily between the emotions and accents of the many characters. She highlights the tension in the plot and clearly expresses the prejudices of some of the characters. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2018

    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, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 15, 2018
    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 exploration 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(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Justina Ireland
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