Dread Nation

Dread Nation

by Justina Ireland


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062570611
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 27,798
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

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.

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Dread Nation 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! Great read! Could not put it down! Love the mystery, pacing, action, and romance. Also, the real elements of history woven in made it all the more interesting. Thank you Ms. Justina Ireland! May we have a sequel please?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book a great read. I loved the story line. I would enjoy the next book.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A real page turner! Loved the book from beginning to end.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
Jane is at Miss Preston's school to learn how to defend and protect in the hope she will be hired by an elite family. What she gets is the lessons but is then sent west to protect a town. The secrets she learns cause her to seek her freedom. I liked Jane. She is kick-ass and determined. She knows what is what and is not willing to pretend that those is power care about her or those of her class. She is also smart. She has the skills to save herself and the empathy to save her friends if possible. I had a hard time putting this book down. I hope the sequel comes soon. I want to know if Jane makes it. Loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MissyReadinginPA More than 1 year ago
I absolutely, positively devoured this book! It was fan-freaking-tastic! I have sizable list of books to read and I don't even know how to progress to another story after finishing Dread Nation. The cover is beautiful and I love the pages that are made to look like an old book. This is an alt-historical book, focusing on the combat training of a young black girl towards the end of the Civil War. Slavery is abolished but the dead have risen up into zombie hordes. Jane is the main character and she's plucky, sassy, and bada**! Ms. Ireland tells a story filled with Negro and Native American combat schools where children of both races and cultures are sent to learn to fight the undead so that whites can live in relative comfort. You can almost believe that she has written a wonderfully fictional tale from start to finish until you read the author's note at the end. You'll find that there is some truth to her story. I applaud Ms. Ireland on this book and I plan on reading the books suggested in her note. I cannot wait until the sequel for Dread Nation is available. I don't know if I will be able to survive not knowing how Jane and her posse are faring.
Shawscribbles More than 1 year ago
Imagine if the American Civil War was also the scene of the zombie apocalypse? That's exactly what Justina Ireland does in her novel, Dread Nation. As if slavery and war weren't enough, now Jane has to contend with zombies! Jane's white mother is a plantation owner who had a desire for the black slaves who worked on her plantation. When Jane was born, she insisted on raising her daughter as her own even though (based on Jane's dark skin) the father is not her mother's husband. When that husband returns home from the war infected with the zombie virus, he is killed and Jane is sent to an unorthodox finishing school: Miss Preston's School of Combat. But things don't seem quite right - as friends and family begin to disappear, Jane begins to get suspicious but before she can truly investigate she finds herself in a utopian town out west where things are not quite as perfect as her friends would have her believe. This was a fun and unique read. The premise is so outside-the-box, that I was intrigued. And Jane is a strong, independent protagonist that had me hooked from page one. A fast paced adventure with zombies thrown into the mix makes this book tough to put down.
gundy03130 More than 1 year ago
Wow! Only put it down b/c I had to go to bed... Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is in the top three books I've listened to this year. I couldn't put it down and only did when it was bedtime (reluctantly). Even got guff from my family that I was listening to a book vs. talking with them. So yes, this book is fantastic and you should be listening/reading it. This would make one fantastic kick butt TV series or movie if done right. I do no usually read any war related or slavery books, but thought I'd give it a chance since it had Zombies (aka Shamblers). The book takes place at what should have been the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, however, instead of that battle happening, dead soldiers turn to zombies and the fight is on. The book's main characters is Jane, a strong-willed young lady who has her own ways of dealing with the problems in the world. I'm not going to say anything more than this as I do not want to say too much and ruin the surprises in the book. I would love more books in the series, but there's also that part of me that says "This book is perfect how it is". I will certainly be checking out Justina's other books, along with the narrator. Bahni Tuprin is in my top three narrators. Do yourself a favor and listen to this book. Parental guidance/Trigger warnings: This book is set to the time around the Civil War. Not going into specifics other than racism, sexism, slavery, killing, use of weapons, and like-things happening. There is one brutal descriptive scene of a lashing and a woman's breasts are exposed to the public. Minimal romance/talk of relationships (more along the lines of having a crush on a guy, mentions of loving a guy/being in a relationship in the past but no sex or sex talk from what I recall).
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
I'm normally not a fan of historical fiction. I'm also normally not a fan of zombies. But who knew if you put them together I'd fall for them both?! This very unusual mix of things helped me find a new love for both of these story ideas. Jane attends a school where she learns how to become an attendant, someone who protects her charges (wealthy white women) from shamblers. All of a sudden, those families she was learning to protect go missing. Jane wants to figure out what's going on.... And that of course puts her right in the middle of drama. And now, not only does she have to fight the shamblers, but she also has to fight some terrible humans too...... For this to be historical fiction, this was such an easy read. The history didn't overbear on the rest of the story and I was able to enjoy it better that way. The historical parts were there, but Ireland didn't really go into detail. This may be why I liked it so much. It wasn't too teachy and it wasn't trying to be too preachy. It really could have done with some more shamblers and shambler attacks. I know the object is to stay away from them, but for the most part, I was expecting them to do more. See them more. I'm hoping for more in Book 2 because the fighting and action in this one was AMAZING. So much so that I had some really trippy dreams about fighting shamblers when I first started reading it. And of course, I LOVED the main character. Jane reminded me so much of me and my sarcasm. And then there was Red Jack and Katherine. They were a bit annoying at first, but they grew on me as things went along. All the characters were fully developed and they all served a specific part of the puzzle. This book was nothing at all like I expected. It was raw, real, and uncut and it was amazing. It has definitely made me look at historical fiction and zombies in a completely new light. Can't wait to see what trouble Jane and Co get into in Book 2!
EllenRozek More than 1 year ago
Talk about a barnstormer of a book! There are more badass ladies between these pages than you can shake a pair of sickles at, and not just because so many of them are zombie killers. From Katherine and Jane's mother, who wield their beauty and charm like deadly weapons, to Ida and Nessie, hiding brains and survival instincts behind subservient facades, to Jane herself, determined to stand up to injustice even when it means risking her life, the characters were as compelling as the story itself. I wasn't expecting Jane's adventures to play out the way they did, and since I'd like to avoid spoilers if at all possible, let's just say that the villains who make their appearance in the second half of the book are far more terrifying than a horde of thoughtless dead. After all, DREAD NATION is less about the horror of zombies than it is about the horror of racism, and the ways in which white Americans knowingly or unknowingly attempt to subjugate minority groups. If you, like myself, enjoy your alternate history narratives with a side of cold, hard reality, you should definitely check this one out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome read for young black readers who love sci-fi! Thanks essence subscription on Snapchat or I would have never found this book!
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
This book was a fabulous, exciting, creative read that I absolutely fell in love with. I adore it when a book put a genuinely new spin on something we've seen before. This was insanely unique. Don't "shamble" on your way to get your own copy of this one--you're going to love it!
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
This book was a fabulous, exciting, creative read that I absolutely fell in love with. I adore it when a book put a genuinely new spin on something we've seen before. This was insanely unique. Don't "shamble" on your way to get your own copy of this one--you're going to love it!
LRBauer More than 1 year ago
Though I haven't read much alternative history fiction before, this book is by far my favorite in the genre. It's so well written, and I loved that Ireland incorporated some much actual history into this zombie ridden United States. The main character, Jane, is fierce, smart, and unafraid of taking charge no matter who stands in her way. I highly recommend Dread Nation and am looking forward to reading the second book.
Magdalyn_Ann More than 1 year ago
I've been hearing nothing but praise for Dread Nation since word of it hit Twitter. I hadn't read a zombie story or a historical fiction story in a while. So my interest was definitely piqued when I heard about this one. Jane is a whip-smart girl who's able to cut down "shamblers" (zombies) like she's taking a hot knife through butter. But when she's caught sneaking around the mayor's house, she's sent off to a small town in Kansas where living there while black is practically a death sentence. Jane uncovers a conspiracy and when the dead start to gather and act in weirder ways than before, she's the only one in the west who has a chance of stopping it. There's danger around every corner and Jane meets it head on. There's high emotions and high tensions on every page and I just couldn't put Dread Nation down. This was the type of book where I got to the end and cried--not just because of the amazing storytelling but also because I have to wait forever for book 2. I highly recommend Justina Ireland's Dread Nation to anyone with an interest in zombies, historical fiction or even current YA books because this one is tearing it up.
missdefying More than 1 year ago
This book was my jam. Zombies, badass women, historical, and dystopia? It was a dream come true. In post-Reconstruction America, formerly enslaved individuals are legally required to attend schools to teach them to fight a threat to both the North and the South: Zombies. The book imagines a post-apocalyptic Victorian America in which the most disposable members of society must strike a balance between proficiency in combat and etiquette. When biracial woman Jane McKeene begins to suspect there’s more to these institutions than meets the eye, she finds herself in the middle of a battle to establish a new civilization in which slavery is not only alive and well, but is far more deadly. Ireland’s alternative history novel raises questions about race that are still relevant today, including straddling the line between respectability and morality. With tightly-written prose, heart-pounding pacing, and social relevance, this novel is one that will both entertain the reader and make them question widely-held beliefs.
GregAndree More than 1 year ago
"I understand that it is dismaying to know a girl might be wont to strap a revolver to her thigh before attending an educational event." First, I loved this book. I’m writing this weeks after I read it, and I’m still thinking about it. I really liked Ireland’s PROMISE OF SHADOWS, but DREAD NATION is such a leap forward in complexity and craft that’s amazing. I really am in awe of this book that shows us a alternate history of the United States during reconstruction, but reflects our country as it currently exists. Her mind for satire is sharp (and not The Onion hahaha funny headline satire, but the satire of dead serious reflection), and the action is AWESOME and terrifying. I love Jane, the MC of DREAD NATION. She is thoughtful, and impulsive. She is caring, and hateful. She is hilarious, and dead serious. She is such a complex character that she felt alive (insert zombie joke . . .) Her voice felt authentic for the time of reconstruction, but it didn't feel dated or stilted. Her voice was W.E.B. Dubois, Mark Twain, Hariet E. Wilson, and of course Justina Ireland stirred together into a perfect amalgam - poetic at times, sarcastic, and truth throwing always. And Jane is surrounded by fully realized characters from friends and family, to politicians, scientists, and community members. Their relationships feel real, and are at the core of the book. The world building in DREAD NATION is incredible. Justina Ireland knows her history. She knows the culture of the times, popular entertainment, mindsets of people in all levels of society, and science. You feel like you're living in a fully realized world, and as her alternate history shaped by the uprising of the dead during the Civil War progresses you see that she has thought through not just the BIG parts of society and history that would change, but even down to the smallest details (and if this doesn't have a sequel, a series, and HBO show our world will be poorer for it). One of my fave world building parts that took me by surprise was a piece of classic literature. At one point Jane has a copy of the big new book of the time, Tom Sawyer, and it didn’t occur to me how much the book would have changed if Twain was writing during these times. I just thought of the book that I read when I was in school, but nope. Tom Sawyer in this alt-history is of course dealing with mischief, but instead of getting kids to paint fences for him, he’s out dealing with zombies and death, and all with Twain’s humor. And really, seeing Jane as a hero, Black and epic and proud in this book, is revolutionary all on its own, aside from how brilliantly conceived this books is. Jane is going to change teen readers’ perceptions. I can’t wait to share it with my students, and looking forward to summer reading lists that include DREAD NATION, and really school curriculums that could build entire classes around unpacking the world Justina Ireland created. Anyway, long story short, I liked the book, a lot . . . obv. I wonder if I could get my school system to adopt it to read side by side with another zombie classic we can't stop teaching, To Kill A Mockingbird. No joke. New personal mission : )
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
“We can either die peacefully or survive by any means necessary.” I honestly can’t remember how long I’ve been waiting for this book and I’m so happy to have finally read it! Dread Nation is an epic alternative history tale where the dead began to rise during the American Civil War, effectively ending that battle as a newer threat emerged. Dread Nation is an action-packed thrill from one page to the next that you can’t miss. Things I Liked I really loved Jane. She is an amazing character - so full of fire, determination, and smarts. Jane is a character you root for because she’s so capable and strong, but also yell at for being impulsive and a bit vain. She’s just the greatest. Also, while there isn’t a label given, or a relationship on the page, Jane does say that she had been with/had feelings for both men and women in the past. So we have a WOC on the LGBT+ spectrum in a historical novel! Kate, the story’s second leading character, is equally as fabulous and complex. I liked seeing her as a foil to Jane, not quite as impulsive or brash, but equally as smart and capable. Kate and Jane develop this fantastic friendship that is supportive, caring, and pure. Kate is also an aro/ace character! I want more historical stories with POC leads and I’m so glad that Dread Nation exists. I loved seeing how race was discussed in the time period - and how colorism is a huge part of the racial experience of black Americans. I really like that the story didn’t shy away from honest discussions and addressed that even though slavery had ended institutions, like the combat schools which mirror the real-world American Indian boarding schools, have been put in place to see certain racial groups at a disadvantage. If you know me then you know I love letters or quotes used as chapter lead-ins in stories. I though the letter excerpts here from both Jane and her mom were great at building their relationship, which is so incredibly important to Jane. They also helped me connect with Jane’s mom, a character who we never see on page. Quotes “It’s a cruel, cruel world and the people are the worst part.” “Lots of different ways to pretty up the same old evils.” Things I Didn’t Like There was 2 distinct parts in the story, and while I LOVED part 1 so much, part 2 wasn’t as enjoyable for me personally. I found some of the characters we meet to be more one dimensional or just not as fully developed as I wanted and the plot was a tad bit confusing at times. I also thought the ending was relatively weak. Despite the intense action - it never felt like there was a real threat or the characters were in any real danger. It was all very non-consequential. Despite my enjoyment fading the teensiest bit, I still enjoyed Dread Nation a whole bunch. With complex characters, intense action, and an important message, this is a new release you can’t miss. I received a copy of the book from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are take from an ARC and are subject to change.