No Spoiler Book Review: Dread Nation

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Today’s Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Today’s Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

You could read this book purely for the entertainment, but it’s the social commentary that makes this literary work a very powerful piece. And that’s always been the beauty and power of Sci-fi and Fantasy: the genres have always been an incredible medium for holding up a mirror to society, telling the stories of the oppressed and marginalized, and in so doing, speaking truth to power.

Set in the backdrop of the American Civil War, Dread Nation is quite obviously a creative exploration into racial inequality as well as feminism and classicism. And whether it’s intentional or otherwise, it does open up the door to conversations about colorism as well. All these themes and motifs, depending on who you are as a reader and where you are on the spectrum of social consciousness are either enlightening and empowering or simply don’t go far enough with regards exploring the complexities of racial inequality, class, feminism and colorism.

In summation, just the premise alone, “Zombies roaming around during the Civil War” sparked my curiosity. And with just a few pages in, I was hooked: the characters, the social commentary, and the pace are all engaging. I strongly recommend this to anyone yearning for a new socially conscious spin on an otherwise stale zombie genre.

Book Description: Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education 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.


Kwapi Vengesayi is an Amazon bestselling author whose books explore captivating musings and thought-provoking conversations about love, relationships, life and our human experience. You can find his book on Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter @kwapiv or subscribe to his blog at