Dread Nation (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

There is much anticipation of this rich and clever novel, set just after the American Civil War but with a zombie apocalypse instead of real emancipation.   The narrator has been forced into training to kill zombies at what looks from the outside as a school for gentile colored girls.  She masters her craft alright, but when she realizes what the white overlords have planned for her brothers and sisters on the frontlines she must think fast.  The premise is clever and thought-provoking but make no mistake, for better or worse, at its heart this is a solid zombie novel more than it is a political one. 

— Jenny S., Publisher Rep

Reviews from the Ponderosa High School Book Club:

Dread Nation is a dystopian, historical, young adult fiction novel. Featuring an empowered, young black woman fighting zombies, racism, and bigotry who takes the world by storm in the late 1800s. I loved the strong will and dynamism of Jane McKeene. The plot was quick and engaging. This novel is an excellent choice for any reader.

Dread Nation is a beautiful work of literature that reflects the period for which it's written. Jane McKeene is 17-year-old African American that is smart, strong and beautifully written. The book engaged you and kept you wanting more, be it on her background of what is yet to come. If you love apocalyptic historical fiction, you'd enjoy this book.

Dread Nation was a well written historical fiction book, the use of language was great for it's intended purpose. Jane McKeene was quick-witted and beautifully smart for her given circumstances. If you love zombies and historical accuracy this is the book for you.

Dread Nation is in an apocalyptic setting, focused on a character by the name of Jane McKeene. She is an African American teenager who was born into a state of war against the dead. The book was great because the plot stayed moving which kept it entertaining. The main thing I enjoyed was the detail conveyed in each character and situation without becoming dull. I also liked the way in which historical fiction was expressed. One of the themes in the book is racism which is historically accurate to the period and location. I loved the irony this set up with the coexisting theme of working together and destroying division between states. Overall would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys apocalyptic reads!

Dread Nation is a nineteenth-century apocalyptic fiction novel geared towards any reader. The book features a strong, teenage female lead who fights racism and the walking dead with skill and style. This is an explosive novel with fantasy-laced alternate history. I loved this book because it is empowering for young women and has a fast-paced, exciting, adventurous plot. If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you'd love Dread Nation!

— Ponderosa High School Book Club

December 1969 Indie Next List

“Dread Nation is not just a zombie story; you could have weeks of book group meetings and still be talking about it. Ireland is an author to keep your eyes on. She writes with meaning, intention, and spark. Her characters leap off the page and demand attention. In Ireland's tale, the world is crumbling, racism is making a fierce comeback (if it every really left), and you won't be able to help drawing connections to recent current events.”
— Clarissa Murphy, Papercuts JP, Boston, MA


New York Times bestseller * Six starred reviews

At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education 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.

Please note that this book has deckle edges (the edges of the paper are purposely rough).

About the Author

Justina Ireland is the author of the teen novels Dread NationVengeance Bound, and Promise of Shadows. She enjoys dark chocolate and dark humor and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at www.justinaireland.com.

Praise For…

“This highly anticipated release is getting lauded as equal parts exciting, terrifying, and oh-so-relevant. Crackles on every page.”
— Brightly

“Ireland delivers a necessary, subversive, and explosive novel with her fantasy-laced alternate history that does the all-important work of exploring topics of oppression, racism, and slavery while simultaneously accomplishing so much more. Brilliant and gut-wrenching.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“Abundant action, thoughtful worldbuilding, and a brave, smart, and skillfully drawn cast entertain as Ireland (Promise of Shadows) illustrates the ignorance and immorality of racial discrimination and examines the relationship between equality and freedom. Mounting peril creates a pulse-pounding pace, hurtling readers toward a nail-biting conclusion.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Will catch readers off-guard with its blend of genres: it starts out as an historical thriller but then tosses in hard hits of mystery, dystopian reimagining, romance, and humor. Jane’s voice reads familiar to more contemporary considerations of Black girlhood, with elements such as beauty standards, colorism, and friendships.”
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“This absorbing page-turner works on multiple levels: as unflinching alternate history set in post-Reconstruction-era Maryland and Kansas; as a refreshingly subversive action story starring a badass heroine; as zombie fiction suspenseful; and as a compelling exhortation to scrutinize the racist underpinnings of contemporary American sociopolitical systems.”
— Horn Book (starred review)

“Ireland skillfully works in the different forms of enslavement, mental and physical, into a complex and engaging story. A perfect blend of horrors real and imagined, perfect for fans of The Walking Dead.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)

“Tremendously original, subversive, sharp, and all around badass, Dread Nation is not your mother’s Civil War–era zombie story.”
— Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Dumplin’

Dread Nation is everything I love—it’s beautiful, unflinching, lyrical, tender, and vividly imagined. Don’t miss this book!”
— Ann Aguirre, New York Times bestseller and coauthor of Honor Among Thieves

“This is the zombie novel I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”
— Kate Elliott, New York Times bestselling author of Court of Fives

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062570604
ISBN-10: 0062570609
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Pages: 464
Language: English