by Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Length: 11 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Horror, Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 4 cups
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.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is an alternate historical fiction where the Civil War ended when the dead rose hungry. Narrated by Bahni Turpin I quickly found myself caught up in this tale. A clever, sassy, kick-ass heroine and fantastic world-building left me itching for book two.
Reasons to grab your earbuds and listen to Dread Nation
- Jane McKeene, the main character of our story is a Negro, born to a white woman in Kentucky. Her birth took place two days before the dead arose hungry and walked the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. We meet Jane at sixteen and find her enrolled at Miss. Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. From the first pages, I liked Jane and wanted to know more. She is frank, smart and as we will soon learn a great strategist and kick-ass heroine. Jane fully understands the world she lives and struggles with biting her tongue or screaming to the gods about the stupidity of it all.
- The historical aspects and subjects like authoritarianism, slavery, and society were brilliant! Ireland did a splendid job with accurate details on our nation’s history during this era all while weaving zombies into the mix. The combat school where Jane’s mandated to attend were inspired by the Native American Boarding Schools opened in the United States. Here young native Americans were taking from their parents and raised to learn. It was a dark time in our history. In Jane’s world, Negros and Native American children are taught etiquette and how to battle zombies thanks to the Native and Negro Reeducation Act.
- I know some of you are thinking zombies..so not my thing. However, they are just a backdrop to this alternate history. We see attacks, and a little gore is mentioned, but the focus is on Jane and the trouble she gets into when she notices graduates of her school, who are in services to the fine ladies of Baltimore, and others on the outskirts of the community go missing. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect and the sneaking about with Jane.
- The story setting takes place between Baltimore a supposedly zombie-free area and a new community smack in the middle of Kansas. Ireland brought both settings to life and really made me feel as if I were there in the thick of things.
- Well developed secondary characters were unique and further enhanced the story. They adding credibility, interest and sometimes a little humor to the world. I loved the enemies to friends relationship that developed between Jane and her schoolmate Katherine.
- Listening to Dread Nation was fantastic! Bahni Turpin not only captured our protagonist Jane, but she really brought the story to life using voices, tone and pacing to propel the story forward. The author’s writing style lends perfectly to the audio format, and I found myself pulled into the tale she wove.
- This is first in series by the same name, and while the ending delivered new developments Ireland closed the current threads while setting up the next book.