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  • Writer's pictureSofiya Pasternack

Review: Dread Nation

Author: Justina Ireland

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Historical

Series: Dread Nation #1


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.

What I Liked

OKAY alt history Civil War zombies? YAAASSS! The voice in this leaps off the page. I'm from the South so the Jane in my head probably sounds more Gulf Coast than she's supposed to, but still. You immediately fall into her and her world. Some of the betrayals come out of nowhere, but some have just enough foreshadowing. Both kinds felt very organic and sufficiently "OMG" when they happened.

What I Would Have Liked to See


My Favorite

The social commentary that clung to basically every word in this book. Some of the things the characters said, I've heard literally verbatim come out of real people's mouths. I'm so glad they were added to the book.


Civil War zombie-killing BA kicks butt, breaks rules, and saves several days while America struggles to overcome the terrible plague tearing it apart.



meet sofiya!

Sofiya Pasternack is a mental health professional, the highly-distractible author of Jewish MG and YA fantasy, and prone to oversharing gross medical stories.

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