Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
Well, I am really glad that I finally got a chance to read "Dread Nation." Not going to lie though, I was pretty bored for most of the book. Even after the action moves there just seemed to be endless indignities our main character had to deal with until she does a reveal about her past. The world building was good, but I still questioned some things and I am glad that the book didn't end on a cliffhanger. I am not a fan of cliffhangers.
"Dread Nation" is about an alternate United States where the Civil War is ended when the dead start to walk among us. In order to fight and put down the dead, the United States creates a so-called Native and Negro Reeducation Act that requires all Native Americans and African Americas to be put into schools to train how to fight the dead and become Attendants. Jane McKeene who is our main character, is a teenager that is currently enrolled at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls, hoping to graduate soon and be able to return to her family and friends at Rose Hill. When Jane starts to realize that something strange seems to be going on with her school and the nearby Mayor, her life is turned upside down.
It was great to read a book starring a bi-racial young adult character. Jane is fierce, lies, and makes no bones about who she is and what she has done. I am not going to lie though, at first Jane bugged me, but she grew on me and I loved that she refused to back down and just let evil (bad guys) win.
The book keeps pace with Jane in the present though with little vignettes showing how her life was back at Rose Hill (her family's plantation) with her Aunt Aggie and her mother.
The secondary characters development is a bit thin though except for the character of Katherine. I really don't get the character of Daniel Redfern or Red Jack. The motivations of the teachers at the school Jane went to didn't really work for me. And we got like four token racist characters. They could have been combined. Katherine and Jane's growing friendship was wonderful though. I really enjoyed the frenemies becoming true friends. And I loved both of their backstories that we got in this one.
I also enjoyed how Ireland uses this book to showcase racism in our past in this country, but also certain incidents in this book could be updated to modern times quite easily.
That said, the book could have been split in half. There were so many characters and motivations we had to keep track of during this book it got to be a bit much towards the end.
The writing was good, I especially liked the letters from Jane to her mother and from her mother back to her. The flow was off though. The first part of the book with Jane at her school was dry as anything.
The world building was interesting. I still have a problem though. I do think that African Americans are considered free in this new alternate history. But, we still have them being forced to be subservient to whites. It didn't make a lot of sense to me on how this was done without African Americans or Native Americans just fleeing and or making up their own towns/communities. The characters who are white in this book don't seem to be able to do that much, so training a highly skilled community of people that you keep treating terribly seems dumb to me. I think Ireland was using Jim Crow laws as an inspiration for how something like the above could have happened (with minorities forced to still be forced to be subservient to whites) but I wish that someone had brought this up or that we heard about minority communities or those arguing for change.
The ending was good and sets up the next book nicely.