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)