“Dread Nation” by Justina Ireland, is a historical fiction/zombie novel about a young black woman stuck in a world where the dead walk.
This dreadful phoenomenoa begins when Jane is just two; the dead rise and with them Jane’s fate is sealed. Because of the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, all dark-skinned people are required to join a zombie fighting school by the age of 12.
Jane grew up in a white family, her mother, the head of the household, was rumored to like dark men in her bed. When Jane was born the rumor became even more believable. Her mother tried to keep it hidden, but many ridiculed Jane.
Trying to be safe, Jane hid from the Reeducation act until her fourteenth birthday, when she finally realized she couldn’t hide any more. Jane is sent to the country's top training school, Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, where she spends the next few years learning the art of killing.
At the school, Jane meets Kate, a pretty girl so pale she can pass as white. When rich white families start to go missing, Jane gets pulled in, and with her, Kate. They form an unlikely friendship because they realize what it really means to be owned in common, and understand how difficult the road to freedom can be.
Jane is badass. No other way to describe her. She’s smart, intuitive, and great with a gun. Jane notices when people judge her for being black and makes the most of it. Having people underestimate her is one of the best contributions to the whole novel, along with Kate’s amazing acting skills.
This intriguing novel tackles difficult issues like slavery, and white supremacy. I recommend “Dread Nation” to those who like a strong female lead and books with nail biting moments, because what’s better than a rebel who likes to chop off the heads of zombies?