Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation 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.
Hardcover, 455 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
This was one of my most anticipated books for spring from the moment I heard of it and laid eyes on that cover. I have no idea what struck this chord other then I love history and figured this alternate derailment (from the current one) will be epic. A dystopian setting in the past versus the future as in most YA novels. BAM…a dystopian, YA, alternate historical fiction genre has been created. And I am all for it!
The setting for Dread Nation begins during the Civil War years. Jane McKeene is attending Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, funded by Congress after the Negro and Native Reeducation Act was put in place. After the Great Discord, the US Army needs more help to provide protection of privileged families and citizens from shamblers (zombies), and these schools will put forth the help and aid needed.
McKeene is top at her class. She is smart, sassy and badass. At a local lecture she is attending, the professor want to try out a new medical procedure that will put other innocent people in harm’s way. She cleverly sees through the procedure and is able to save some important people attending. This earns her the spotlight and job to be an ‘attendant’ to an upper class couple. An opportunity many girls in her place strive for to receive.
But McKeene is also missing her family. Mostly her mother. At the beginning of each chapter there is a personal letter or note she or her mother writes…..and NEVER receives. This is part of an awful plot that takes her and some others from the school out West to a town called Summerland, Kansas. A town where Negros live on one side of town and the privileged higher society on the other. Lead by a strong Christian supremacist leader who preaches that Summerland has been created according to the Lords will, there are sinister, dark things going on in and around town. Are the shamblers alone the danger of town? Well, McKeene is in to find out the hard way.
First of all, this book was ENTERTAINING! I am the least person to read anything involving horror. I am horrified of horror!!! I don’t like anything zombies either….and yet, this worked so well for me. I really liked it.
This book traveled with me across the States from coast to coast. And despite all the things I hear and read surrounding the novel, I am fond it. It is YA, so keep that in mind. It isn’t a in depth fantasy, but rather lighthearted, pulse raising and entertaining. Perhaps a lighter fantasy you may say. I definitely recommend it for that. Facts from fiction…it is fantasy. Something different and new. I recommend.