Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation 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
The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.Deathless Divide, Goodreads.com
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
Dread Nation came first and it is super amazing. I enjoyed discovering Jane McKeene because she is feisty, strong-willed and kicks ass. She is a fierce black girl lead. Nothing can keep her down. She lives her life how she wants it, despite her circumstances. Book One (Dread Nation) is badass.
It made me want to read Deathless Divide, and continue with Jane. Book Two is absolutely darker than the first book. Which is a strange perspective considering the background of zombies and settlements where Jane is faced with segregation and fighting for equal rights for resources found in book one. The zombies continue in book two, and the settlement where Jane ends up with her friends is a bit more civilized, to a point.
However, in Book Two Jane deals with grief and the part she plays in the death of a man she cared about. She loses people close to her, and the ensuing grief plunges her into a very dark period of her life. The added bonus is that Book Two includes Katherine Deveraux’s POV. Katherine is Jane’s best friend, and the one person capable of pulling Jane back from the dark side. We get to meet a host of new characters as they all fight to survive the world-ending zombie pandemic. Katherine helps pull Jane back when she is all but lost in a quest that could threaten her life.
In all, Dread Nation and Deathless Divide represent strong-willed black women willing to fight for their friends and family in order to survive a harsh and brutal world.
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