Saturday, October 27, 2018

Book Blogger Hop No. 148: A Horror Novel for Non-Horror Readers

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
Halloween Edition!!
This event is hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

Recommend one horror novel
for non-horror readers.

(Submitted  by Billy @

Dread Nation
(Dread Nation, Book 1)
Justina Ireland
Hardcover, 464 pages
Balzer + Bray
April 3, 2018
Alternate History, Fantasy, 
Historical Fiction, Horror,  Humor,
Satire, Young Adult Fiction

My Answer

As regular readers of this blog already know, I do not like the horror genre. First-time visitors might be puzzled at this answer, because, after all, I do have a Halloween header on my blog. And, I keep it there all through the month of October. But you will notice that there's nothing even remotely scary about this header. Instead, it's heavy on "the cute factor". Lol. So why have I decided to answer this question? Ah, so, grasshopper! Read on!  :)

Not that long ago, I came across a book with an awesome cover. It's the one shown above. I thought to myself, "Now, here's a kick-butt female protagonist, for sure!" So, I just had to check out the plot. And, well......there were zombies in it..... That made me pause. I detest zombies with every fiber of my being! But, I wanted to know more about Jane McKeene, the kick-butt female protagonist, who is depicted on the cover. Besides, there was something else I found very intriguing about this plot -- it was an alternate history of the U.S., and the Civil War. I find such plots totally fascinating! I mean, what if such-and-such had happened, instead of what actually took place? 

There was one more factor.... a good blogging buddy of mine, Barb @ Booker T's Farm, convinced me to do a buddy read of this novel with her. (She's been trying to get me to read more horror novels, especially those of Stephen King. I have graciously declined.) So I decided to go for it! We each published update posts on our blogs as we went along, too. These posts included questions we asked each other, which we then answered in the following week's post. Oh, it was SO much fun to compare our points of view and opinions on this book!

But, wait! You are probably reminding me right about now that I don't like the horror genre! Right. Would I call this a horror novel, though? Well, there are zombies in it, after all. However, this novel is what I have decided to call "horror lite". I think this might even become a new genre! Lol. The thing is, this novel is really a scathing, satirical condemnation of racism, as well as a tribute to strong women everywhere, especially women of color. The horror aspect of the plot is just a device used by this brilliant author (I am now a lifelong fan!) to expound her views on these two subjects. And, in Jane McKeene, she has found a powerful voice to do just that!

Of course, there were indeed some battles with the fearsome zombies. And it was sad to see that Jane found people she had known in her "normal" life who had actually become these horrible creatures, because they were bitten by other zombies. But Ireland never goes the typical horror route of dwelling on fear and gruesome details. In fact, these two usual ingredients of horror novels are not overwhelmingly present here. Instead, we have a tour-de-force of absolutely brilliant satire, with whip-smart characterizations, as well as an exciting plot that really highlights the actions of our "shero", as well as the evils of the racism of the time. Of course, this all serves as a biting condemnation of the racism still present in our own time. 

Ireland has not only written a beautifully descriptive novel (again, without much fear, blood, or gore), but wonderful dialogues, as well. Her characters literally leap off the page, to use a much-used literary criticism cliche. It is totally true in this case, however. I wanted to be a part of Jane's team! Because her real battle wasn't with the zombies, but with the totally racist, sexist system of the time -- even though this time period was in an alternate historical dimension. I was right there with Jane, joining in all the action! I fought her battles right along with her, and these were battles of social justice, rather than battles with zombies. In fact, I strongly believe that the zombies were a literary metaphor employed to depict those who wanted to keep African-Americans down, in their "place", as well as keep women also in their "place". And these non-existent "places" were those dictated by the dominant group -- white men. 

So I highly recommend this novel to non-horror fans! Remember, I'm in that group myself, which means I know what I'm talking about. This is a novel that, instead of instilling mindless fear and nausea in the reader, will galvanize and inspire them to fight against the real zombies -- racists and misogynists! 

The battle is ongoing, especially at this time in U.S. history. So this is actually a political novel, and a real good one, at that! Read it in order to become part of the Resistance. You won't have any nightmares afterward, I promise! So, if you're not a horror fan, this one is pretty safe for you to read! (It will probably be a real eye-opener for you, as well. You will actually feel what it was like to be trapped in the oppressive system of that time period. You will also feel and experience for yourself just how subversive Jane is.)

You can access my review of this novel HERE.


What are your thoughts on
this topic?
If you're participating in this hop,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!  


  1. Based on this blog and the others that you hand written on this book this novel sounds really good. I guess that there are specific elements of a book thaf make it “horror”. Though I am not sure, I am thinking thaf this book might have some of those elements but fit mostly into another genre, perhaps urban fantasy. Either way, as you say, it sounds like a good choice for someone who wants to delve a little bit into the genre without plunging into the really scary stuff.

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Oh, this novel is nothing short of AWESOME!!!

      Yes, there are specific elements of a book that mark it as part of the horror genre. Including sombies in the plot certainly makes a book a horror novel to me. However, there are authors in the urban fantasy genre who have included zombies in their novels, as well. I avoid those books, though. I just can't stand zombies!! They're so GROSS. UGH.

      I agree with you -- this book is more of an urban fantasy. It also classifies as SF, because of the alternate history.

      What I LOVE about this novel is the satirical elements, as well as the strong female protagonist! Jane is absolutely formidable! Of course, in the REAL historical setting, I really doubt that such a character would have truly been able to express her potential to the extent that Jane does. But having the plot take place in an alternate historical setting definitely made it much easier for the author to take this character as far as she did!

      Since I do consider this book as "horror lite", I didn't find it all that scary. Thus, I think it would be a great book for a non-horror fan to read. Heck, I am certainly NOT a horror fan by any stretch of the imagination, and I enjoyed this book IMMENSELY!! (I did have a quibble about a revelation at the end, but I still loved the book!)

      Thanks for the interesting comment!! Hope you're having a GREAT Saturday!! <3 :)

  2. Have you read any of Charlie Higson’s YA novels? In them a disease has turned nearly everyone over about sixteen into flesh-eating zombies. So the kids of London have to get into groups and go searching for food while hoping they aren’t attacked by people who might have been parents or older siblings. Scary stuff, but when I hosted the author in an interview on my blog, he said what he really had in mind was the fun of living in Buckingham Palace or department stores or whatever. My students loved them and they weren’t all horror fans.

    If you like classics, there is Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, in which everyone but our hero turns into a vampire. And it’s not Dracula type vampirism. It’s a disease. I read the book before I saw the film version, The Omega Man, which was very different.

    1. Hi, Sue!

      No, I haven't read Higson's novels. Thanks for the rec, but I've had quite enough of zombies, lol. I only read "Dread Nation" because it has other plot elements -- the ones I mentioned in this post -- which interest me. I think zombies are totally DISGUSTING and GROSS. So, "Dread Nation" was the first, and is the last, zombie book for me EVER. Lol.

      As for "I Am Legend", I need to see if these vamps kill humans. If they don't, then I will probably read the book. I'll go check it out on Goodreads. If there's even a HINT of TRUE HORROR in it, though, then I won't be reading it.

      The reason I recommended "Dread Nation" was precisely because it wasn't heavy on the terror and gore. If I, a non-horror fan, was able to actually enjoy this novel, then I think other non-horror fans could, as well.

      Thanks for the informative comment!! <3 :)

  3. Another wonderful answer to the question.

    As I have said before, you are amazing. I wouldn't even be able to think of all that to write. :)

    HUGS, and thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth!

      Thanks for the super sweet compliment!! <3 <3

      I think that, to properly answer this question, one has to put oneself in a non-horror fan's shoes. Since I happen to be one of those, it wasn't at all hard for me to do this! Lol.

      I noticed that other hop participants replied to this question by actually recommending books that would send ANY non-horror fan screaming from the room. I figured that the whole point of the question was to recommend a book or books that a non-horror fan would be able to tolerate! So, "Dread Nation" is a PERFECT example, for the reasons I pointed out in my post. Why would a non-horror fan even pick up, let alone read, a book that will give them the heebie jeebies? Unless, of course, they enjoyed torturing themselves.....LOL.

      Seriously, though, if you might be able to tolerate reading this book, I do recommend it to you. However, since you don't read urban fantasy (and I think this book fits more into that category), you might not like it. I LOVE reading books containing fantasy elements, and I've noticed, from the books featured on your blog, that you prefer more realistic books. So, you might not like this one, after all. Which is fine, of course! We all have different reading tastes!

      Thanks for the WONDERFUL comment back!! Hope you're enjoying your Sunday evening!! HUGS!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

    2. I most likely won't be reading it, but thank you again.

      I am a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to reading only my usual genres. :)

      Thanks for the wonderful reply, Maria.

    3. Hi, again!

      You're very welcome! I figured you wouldn't be reading this book, though. Lol.

      I tend to stick to my comfort zone, too. And that comfort zone definitely includes fantasy and the supernatural! Except, of course, for ANYTHING remotely horror-related! Lol.

      You're very welcome for the reply!! And thanks for the compliment!! HUGS!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  4. Replies
    1. Hi, Billy!

      This book was released on April 3rd this year, so it's a pretty recent publication. As I mentioned in this post, I participated in a buddy read of this novel, along with another book blogger. It was a highly rewarding experience! And I GREATLY enjoyed this book! I was able to tolerate reading it because it wasn't all that heavy on the fear and gore. So this book is just PERFECT for non-horror readers like me!

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)


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