Dread Nation by Justina Ireland | Review

I haven’t written a review in a month and a half, so I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten how to.

Pages: 418

Genre: young adult, historical fiction, zombies

Synopsis

Jane McKeene goes to Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore because zombies have taken over the cities and girls like Jane are needed to stop them. The civil war of America never really ended, the two sides needed to decide the undead had become their biggest enemy. Being the coloured daughter of a white Southern woman has always made Jane’s life difficult, but now people with her skin is treated like they’re disposable, fighting the undead to protect wealthy white people. With her curiousity, spontaneity and fighting skills Jane is caught up in a big conspiracy as families in the town are going missing and certain political groups are promising the return to safety.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

I’d heard a lot of good words before the release of this book and was pretty excited to read about zombies and girls who are awesome at fighting with weapons. My opinions on this book is kind of mixed, both because of not personally matching with the surrounding plot and other things that confused me. It’s still a book I would recommend!

My big problem with historical books and westerns – which this book was going towards the last half – is that it’s so boring to read over and over that the girl is constantly put down. Like there’s no feminism, we get it, stop mixing it into every other sentence. And this book created this balance so well, it made points out of how different this society was from ours, without making it completely unenjoyable reading experience, because Jane and her friends were awesome girls who knew their courage and value. The way it dealt with racism was the same, in that racism was everywhere, as it was one of the main parts of the story. But you still got to see these pockets of coexistence carved out, like the estate Jane left, and how horrifically it could go when someone bigoted and racist was introduced to them. There’s so many horrifyingly racist scenes in here, showing how it tears at the characters, and I think that’s very well done and important.

I love politics in books, usually. But I don’t think this book went deep enough that it mattered much. I’m still confused about how I feel about thins. Maybe I feel like the book alluded to things all the time, but I didn’t really get any message from it except maybe how quick racism can develop in crises when someone need to be blamed and how dangerous division is. It’s certainly a book with a awesome, black heroine. It’s not just a book about zombies, though, but it didn’t quite switch over to politics within the story and like the bigger conspiracies either. I think the mix is what I didn’t like personally – it goes from mystery and boarding school to sudden danger and a more western-like survival story with religious fundamentalists everywhere to full-on war with zombies. With funny, snarky Jane moments sprinkled in there. It sounds interesting, but it’s a lot. While I liked some parts, it felt like others weren’t completely cohesive, which contributed to the feeling of it being a lot put into one book.

I’ll most likely read the next book because I’m curious about where it’s going to go, with Jane and Katherine. I liked Jane sometimes, but the mix of grave danger and humor makes me compare her to like Percy Jackson-type lead characters. I can’t really think of any flaws Jane has that messes up or otherwise interact with the story. Like she talks back to teachers, that’s it. She always takes charge, to great sucess, and while it was a relief to see things go down well, the knowledge that it would because of her drew me out of the story.