Author: Justina Ireland
Title: Dread Nation
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publication Info: HarperAudio (2018)
This novel is set in an alternate universe where the dead rose from the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War ended because of the zombie apocalypse. Twenty years later, the surviving society has adapted by training Black and indigenous people to become “attendants” who protect the white elites from attacks by the “shamblers.” Among these are this books narrator, Jane McKeene, a student at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore as the novel begins.
Jane is a highly-skilled but outspoken student often ending up in trouble. A series of events lead her to being exiled to a new model town on the prairies of Kansas with her colleagues Catherine and Jackson. The town of Summerland has its deep secrets, though, and is under the rule of the virulently racist sheriff. The book works as metaphor for the slavery and Jim Crow periods, and how the ruling caste seeks to perpetuate social divisions even under existential threats to humanity. But the book also works as a straight up adventure and horror story, with no shortage of humor, especially in Jane’s wry narration.