Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Dread Nation, #1)

Dread Nation is fantastic alternate history; refined, resourceful and kick-ass. The zombies are a backdrop for explorations of racism, colorism, cultural genocide, religious zealotry, and sexism, shot through with a mystery thriller/escape story.

The characters are amazing. Jane is calculatedly blunt and extremely savvy, I hope to get more of Jackson in the sequels. The gradual unveiling of Jane's backstory is satisfying, making me think I know what's happening, repeatedly, then showing just one more thing. Jane makes a lot of snap judgement about people as part of her survival strategy and I appreciate how she isn't always right, but she's close enough often enough to get by and keep going.

This whole book needs cws/tws for racism, sexism, colorism, genocide, murder... It manages to be pretty upbeat overall, but it definitely isn't light reading. YMMV on whether it'll be a relaxing read, but it's very well done.

I like zombie stories, the best ones are more about the people left alive than about the actual undead, and this one lives up to that legacy. It's smart social critique, including extrapolating from the very real existence of schools for carrying out cultural genocide of Native Americans to assume that, given the hypothetical existence of zombies in the late 19th century, America might take the opportunity to try and "reeducate" former slaves and their children in a similar manner.

CW for racism, sexism, murder, gore, death.


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