Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Buy Dread Nation by Justina Ireland at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: Beyond entertaining, Dread Nation is a powerful novel whose story pacts a punch. It excels in plot and pacing and boasts unforgettably unapologetic characters whom readers will fall in love with before finishing the last page. Without a doubt, one of the best books 2019 has to offer! Not to be missed.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: February 2019
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1789090871

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Two days after I was born … the dead rose up and started to walk on a battlefield in a small town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg

Dread Nation narrates the unconventional life of Jane McKeene who was born days before the dead began to walk the streets. An event which in interrupting the civil war between the states altered American history forever. In the changed world, minorities are forced into conscription and under the new Native and Negro Re-education Act children are placed in combat schools where they are trained extensively to destroy the dead once and for all. For Jane and other girls like her, there is however the opportunity for a better life by being employed as an attendant. With deadly capabilities and perfect etiquette, attendants protect those highest in society and are valued above all else.

However, Jane has other ambitions. Almost at the end of her training all Jane longs for is return to the home she was taken from and to see her mama once more. But when families around Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore start to disappear, Jane in investigating finds herself caught in the middle of a conspiracy and against powerful enemies. Against the threat of ring-wing Survivalist politics developing towards the East, who believe in returning America to its days of glory, Jane will need to use every skill at her disposal in order to survive. It seems that rather than the restless dead, it is those alive who pose the greatest threat to all her hopes for the future. For those alive are far more dangerous than she could have ever imagined and will kill her in plain sight without hesitation.

Dread Nation is a double-sided sword; for it is an exceptional story with a great plot and even better characters whilst simultaneously a poignant novel centring around characters under oppression. It stands out primarily as a BAME novel but its diversity extends further with the representation of other minorities such as Native Americans and different sexualities. The overwhelming message of the novel is having the courage to be who you are without shame, but it is not the only message. Folded within Ireland's pages are the value of friendship above all else and the importance of believing in yourself. From these themes alone, it is an important story but beyond the setting of the book the finished product is irresistibly entertaining.

The pace of Dread Nation is relentless and addictive. It draws you in from the start and one page leads to another and then another, until you're wondering where the rest of the novel is. The plot is clever and embroidered within it are handfuls of mysteries spanning the entire novel. These mysteries including the pasts of our protagonists and the true state of undead America, are structured brilliantly with each chapter creating more intrigue. A great feature is the inclusion of diary entries at the beginning of each chapter. Through them readers slowly uncover the details of Jane's past such as how she came to leave her home, whilst being fully immersed in her present.

However, the stand out aspect of Dread Nation is the novel's zombie scenes. The execution of the novel's fight scenes is masterful and Ireland's writing is so good it feels as if readers are right in the thick of the action. They're graphic and slightly terrifying but so intense and thrilling that readers will count down the pages until there is another battle. The novel's narrator, Jane, who shines in such scenes ensure the action is all the more enjoyable. Unapologetic and deadly, intelligent and witty, Jane is a fierce protagonist readers won't tire of.

Whilst Jane is at the novel's heart, the spotlight of the novel is focused on the developing friendship between Jane and Katharine, whose beauty is unparalleled, whose skills in etiquette are sparkling and whose training is lethal. Their unlikely pairing is a fantastic element of the book and is as much of a selling point as the action. It surprised me how much Katharine, with her own mysteries and who I would argue has more of a character arc than Jane, grew on me and undoubtedly became my favourite. If Jane's character shines, Katharine glitters and as they begin to work as a team and depend upon each other together the two central characters dazzle.

I loved Dread Nation and cannot recommend it enough. It's intelligent, it's humorous, and it's an unbelievably fun read with suspense at around every corner. Moreover, in my opinion Ireland's balance of themes, including family, friendship, and romance, is perfect.

Many thanks to the publishers for providing the Bookbag with a copy to review!

A wildly entertaining read, Dread Nation is a brilliant zombie novel but it's also so much more. Ireland's book that shines from one page to the next – look no further for your next book!

In terms of further reading, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry is another fantastic post-apocalyptic zombie novel which has a great fast-paced action plot and exceptional characters just like Dread Nation.

Buy Dread Nation by Justina Ireland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dread Nation by Justina Ireland at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Dread Nation by Justina Ireland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dread Nation by Justina Ireland at Amazon.com.

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