Thursday, April 19, 2018

Buddy Read Time!! Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation
(Dread Nation, Book 1)
Justina Ireland
Hardcover, 464 pages
Bilzer + Bray
April 3, 2018
African-American Fiction, Alternative History, American History, Diverse Reads, Fantasy, 
Feminist Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Horror, Humor, Paranormal Fiction, 
Social Justice, Southern Gothic,
Young Adult Fiction

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.

Wellllll...... I NEVER thought I'd see the day when I would actually, and WILLINGLY, be reading a HORROR novel!! Any reader who has been following me for several years is well aware that I DETEST the horror genre! (And no, I do NOT consider The Twilight Saga as belonging to this genre. Ditto for the Vampire Academy series.) might be asking yourselves right about now, WHY have I picked up this particular novel, which features those fictional paranormal creatures I thoroughly HATE and fear -- ZOMBIES?! Have I gone off my rocker?!

So here I am, embarking on a buddy read with fellow book blogger extraordinaire, Barb @ Booker T's Farm -- Books and Nails and Puppy Dog Tales! In fact, that's the blog where I first saw this book! Barb featured it in one of her "Can't Wait Wednesday" posts, and I was really intrigued... 

Now, I have visited her CWW posts on many occasions, and, every time she's featured a horror novel, I have told her that I am too much of a BIG CHICKEN to read it. Lol. The horror genre is one of her faves, so she has published posts about some REALLY CREEPY novels! 

Something made a difference to me in this case, folks! Read on!

This is the question Barb is asking me, and which I'm answering here:

"I know you're not a horror reader, and even though you visit my blog regularly, I know some of the books I post about you'll never pick up. So what was it about Dread Nation that made you take the plunge? And how do you feel about venturing into unknown territory?"

My answer: Barb, I know how much of a SHOCK this must be to you, lol! But you know, I am comfortable reading paranormal romance and urban fantasy, which are sort of cousins of the horror genre. I can tolerate these pretty well, as long as they don't get TOO creepy. So this is not exactly unknown territory to me. However, there's something about the horror genre, though, that just scares the you-know-what out of me! And ZOMBIES?! OMG!! They are such detestable, disgusting creatures! 

Okay, so here's why I have made an exception in the case of this novel. First off, that cover. There's a very dynamic-looking, obviously kick-butt female African-American on it, holding a blood-covered sickle. Normally, that blood would put me off, but here, it just makes it abundantly clear that hey, you just do NOT mess with this woman! In fact, it sure looks like you had BETTER tread VERY carefully with her. So there's also feminism involved here! Plus, she's got Old Glory in the background, which means she's as All-American as Captain America. Then there's the plot. I LOVE alternative history novels, although I haven't read that many of them in the past. Well, I intend to do something about that from now on! And an alternative history in which African-Americans are pictured as doing something BAD***, well, all I can say is, we need MORE such novels!! Give me some SOCIAL JUSTICE here!!

Another very important reason I decided to "brave" reading this book is that, since it's Young Adult Fiction, I figured the horror aspect wouldn't be as bad (in other words, there would be MUCH less blood and gore) as it would be in an adult novel.  I'm crossing my fingers that I'm right..... Interestingly, too, from several reviews I've read, it seems that Jane McKeene, that AWESOME MC, has quite a snarky sense of humor. Looking forward to that! One more thing: any MC named "Jane" will be sure to get my attention, as I'm a HUGE "Jane Eyre" fan!! 
:)  :)  :)

So there you have it Barb, and the rest of you, my readers! I am more than willing to brave those slavering zombies in order to enjoy a book in which someone who would not usually be depicted as a heroic protagonist is featured saving the world! It also helped to know that this novel had been, for some time now, one of the most highly anticipated books of 2018! 

Today, Barb and I are launching our buddy read! You can all look forward to our posts about this terrific read that promises to be a highly-rewarding one!

Be sure to check out Barb's buddy-read launch post HERE!

You can find the "Can't Wait Wednesday" post where I first saw this novel, on Barb's blog, HERE!


Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows.


  1. Good luck with the read Maria! I agree, the fact that this fits into The Young Adult catagory probably means that it dispenses with a lot of the horror genres more graphic and frightening aspect. The plot actually sounds like it incorporates several different genres in it. I look forward to your upcoming posts.

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thanks! I've already started, and, so far, I'm GREATLY enjoying it!! Jane McKeene, the female protagonist, is everything I'd been hoping for, and MORE!! She's absolutely AWESOME!! And I LOVE her snarky humor!! I also LOVE the way the author satirizes the racism of the time!

      Yeah, since this is a YA novel, the gore is not all that graphic. Nor is it terribly frightening. It's more intrigue, mystery, and suspense. And yes, the plot does incorporate several genres, which is another HUGE plus!!

      This doesn't mean that I'll EVER give Stephen King a try, though, as I've told Barb! Lol.

      Thanks for the nice comment!! <3 :)

  2. Good luck Maria! As I'm not a fan of horror, I am looking forward to your thoughts on this now that ou've taken the plunge!

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Actually, this is turning out to be less of a horror read, and more of a mystery/suspense one, which suits me just FINE! Lol. Besides, since it's a YA novel, there's not that much emphasis on the blood and gore. I'm crossing my fingers that things will stay that way! Lol.

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)

  3. So I had a lot of your reasons pegged :) Seriously, I'm just glad you're enjoying this so far!

    1. Hi, Barb!

      Yes, you SURE did!! Lol. I'm glad I'm enjoying it, too! Jane McKeene is a GREAT character!! I LOVE her snarky sense of humor, as well as her bravery!

      I'm really enjoying this buddy read!! We must do more of them in the future -- just not horror, lol. Becaause I don't think I'll EVER become "a horror convert", lol.

      Thanks for commenting!! HUGS TO YOU AND THE BOYS, AND ARF, ARF TO THEM!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  4. Barb and I are buddy readers and so I have been hearing a lot about your buddy read and I am glad that you are trying a bit of horror. I would call this light horror so it was a good pick. I thought it was just okay but unlike you I was hoping for lots of zombie action and gore but that fell a bit flat though the story wasn't bad. So it's really the perfect zombie book for you to try. :) I am curious about the next in the series.

    1. Hi, Stormi!

      Oh, how nice that you and Barb are buddy readers! And a LOT of the books you guys read are horror novels, I'll bet! :)

      Yes, this book is definitely light horror. There seems to be more emphasis on mystery and suspense than outright horror. And the author takes quite a few digs at the racism of the time, as well as, of course, the racism that is STILL prevalent in our modern-day society! Her MC, Jane McKeene, is her mouthpiece in this regard. I think those are the reasons I'm GREATLY enjoying this novel!

      OMG, you wanted MORE zombie blood and gore? LOL. I'm HAPPY there isn't more of that!! Well, you're definitely a horror fan, I see. And I don't think I will EVER become one. So yes, this was definitely the perfect zombie book for me to try! Lol. And it will be the first and the last, as I thoroughly DETEST zombies!! Lol.

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)

  5. I hope this book converts you into a new horror reader! We are always looking for more people to join us on the darkside :)

    1. Hi, there!

      I can tell you that no, this book will definitely NOT turn me into a new horror reader! Lol. In fact, I'm loving it precisely because the plot seems to be more about mystery and suspense than zombie blood and gore!

      Sorry to disappoint you, lol. But take heart! I DO enjoy paranormal romance and urban fantasy, which are actually "cousins" to horror! So I DO walk a bit on the dark side, only with happy endings! Lol. :) :)

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)

  6. Horror is not a fave genre of mine either EXCEPT when it's Edgar Allan Poe. And The Girl in the Well books by Rin Chupeco. But only those. I do have to admit this book does sound good. And it does have history in its genre, even if it's alternate history.

  7. I hope you end up loving this one, Maria! I am really curious about the book myself. Who knows, maybe you will start reading horror all the time after this one :)

  8. I feel the same way about horror as you do, Maria - but this one certainly doesn't have that same creepy feeling that out and out horror often has. So I very much hope you both enjoy this one:)


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