Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
My rating: 4/5 cats
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fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

why did it take me so long to read this book when i knew the first time i saw that cover that it was coming home with me?



it may have just been zombie-fatigue—i’m more inclined these days to read zombie-variants (like RABIES-ZOMBIES) or one where the zombie threat is more of a secondary/subplot conflict than the novel’s main focus.

this one features your straightforward nom nom zombies, but it has the novelty of being set in an alt-history reconstruction-era america where the (re)birth of a postwar nation and all of the expected challenges facing a fractured country are complicated further by the rebirth of SO MANY CORPSES!! and the students of Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls shall employ their scythes against them.

so, yessssss, it’s more of those same-old/been-there/done-that zombies, but the human characters are terrific and the story is great fun; fast-paced and actiony without being insubstantial and i loved it right down to its bones, both for what it is and for what it is not. i love jane’s wry angry voice and general badassery; killing shamblers and kicking racists when they’re down, not so focused that she doesn’t notice when there are pretty boys around, but really just far too busy to engage in a romantic subplot, tyvm.

equally busy but also refreshingly uninterested in any romantic entanglements at any time, secondary character/frenemy katherine is just as appealing a heroine, and an excellent foil to jane—a little more patient and adept at the long-game, weaponizing her beauty and trying to ignore the discomfort she feels in being white-passing, and all of the advantages that brings.

i love their bicker and their banter; their vinegar turning into honey as they band together by necessity to take on whatever gets in their way. and while the zombies are certainly there, they’re far from being the only or even the most prominent threat because white men have all kinds of ideas and no kind of restraint.

and i hope i don’t put off reading the second book as long as i did this one because that cliffhanger had teeth and this cover is equally swoony.

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