Dread Nation, A Historical Fantasy Full of Zombies

Stefany Valentine Ramirez
As a reader, it was hard not to be enraged at the injustices Jane was faced with. However, I felt that these uncomfortable scenes were necessary as it would not have painted an accurate depiction of what it meant to be a young Black girl in the 1860s without them. It was through these scenes that anyone could see that monsters of DREAD NATION take the form of living and dead.

By Justina Ireland

Published by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen on June 04. 2019

Genre: Social Themes, Historical Fiction, Action & Action Adventure

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Civil War zombies. That is all you need to know about DREAD NATION to put it on your October reading list! And if you take a closer look, this historical YA fantasy deals with themes of racism, sexism, monstrosity.

The moment the Civil War ended, another war began. But this time, it’s not the North fighting the South. Now it’s the Living fighting the Dead. And stuck in the middle of this war is Jane McKeene. Because of the Negro and Native Re-education Act, Jane is forced to learn how to kill these undead shamblers so that she can protect wealthy White families from being eaten alive. All Jane wants to do is return home to her mother. But that desire never comes to fruition because Jane is shipped to a frontier settlement called Summerland. And in Summerland, the monsters walk among the living.

While in Summerland, Jane is bombarded with more racist and sexist prejudices than ever before. She is forced to live in a whore house, she is barely given the weapons she needs to fight the shamblers, and she is whipped for being caught past curfew. As a reader, it was hard not to be enraged at the injustices Jane was faced with. However, I felt that these uncomfortable scenes were necessary as it would not have painted an accurate depiction of what it meant to be a young Black girl in the 1860s without them. It was through these scenes that anyone could see that monsters of DREAD NATION take the form of living and dead.

This story had me blown away by the writing talent and immense research Justina Ireland poured into her novel. I recommend this read for anyone who wants to sink their teeth into an action-packed zombie story.



Stefany Valentine Ramirez is a Taiwanese-Texan from San Antonio. She graduated from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi where she studied creative writing and technical/professional writing. Since then, she has worked as a social media marketer to promote books written by Zoraida Cordova, Farah Naz Rishi, Nina Varela and others. When not reading a book, Stefany can be found taking pictures for her bookstagram, camping in the wilderness, or working on her debut novel. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

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