Book Review: Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Book: Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Published February 2020 by Balzer + Bray|560 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Dread Nation #2

Genre: YA Alternate History

The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.

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.

I liked Deathless Divide, but not as much as Dread Nation.

So, this book picks up where Dread Nation left off, and we follow Jane and Katherine after leaving Summerland.  Both Jane and Katherine narrate, which was a good thing, because they do get separated.  But I didn’t care for Katherine’s half of the book, and I spent her chapters wishing we could get back to Jane’s story.

I was a lot more interested in Jane’s story, and I think it’s because we follow her in the first book.  I didn’t particularly care about Katherine, or what happened to her.

The two narrators are a big reason why I didn’t love this book.  It was hard to stay interesting when I only cared about reading one of the characters.  Not only that, but I thought the first book was pretty well resolved, and I didn’t particularly care about what happened after.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I read this book, and I’m glad that I got to see what happened after the first book ended.  I just didn’t care as much as I thought I would.

I struggled to get through this book.  I was bored for a lot of it, and it was really hard to concentrate on this book.  I haven’t been in a reading mood lately, so that’s part of it.  I wanted more action, and I didn’t really get it in this book.

I really like the premise, and how zombies blend with U.S. history.  I’m glad we got to see more of the world Jane and Katherine live in, because it is one I would not want to live in.  I’m not sure if I’d read another book in this series, if there is going to be another one.  Maybe one day, but I also wouldn’t be rushing out to get it.

3 stars.  I liked Deathless Divide, but I had a hard time getting into it.

Book Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Book: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Published April 2018 by Balzer + Bray|455 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Dread Nation #1

Genre: YA Alternate History/Historical Fiction/Zombies

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.

I really liked Dread Nation!  I feel like I’ve been hearing about it for a long time, and it’s hard to believe that it’s only been out for a few months.  Maybe it’s because I feel like there’s been A LOT of talk about it.  And it definitely lives up to the hype.

It’s interesting that the civil war was basically interrupted by zombies, and I was reminded of both Pride And Prejudice And Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  It’s definitely in that genre- I’m not sure what you’d call it, but I generally refer to it as the Pride and Prejudice And Zombies genre.

What horrified me the most was the fact that certain people were sent to schools like Miss Preston’s, and that it was based on real life schools where children were taken away from their families to become better integrated into society (if I’m remembering the author’s note correctly.  Unfortunately, it has since been returned to the library, so I can’t exactly refer to it either).  I didn’t realize that was something that happened, though I can’t say I’m surprised either.

The inclusion of zombies does make it an alternate history, but I also really liked the way that it explored racism, sexism and class issues.  I loved both Katherine and Jane and the friendship that formed between them, and how both girls initially didn’t like each other.  They live in a world where they are trapped, though in very different ways.

There are three different stories we see in this book- being trained at Miss Preston’s, navigating Summerland, and the letters that Jane writes/sends back home.  It was an interesting way to do things, though life at Miss Preston’s would lead to something like living at Summerland, but the letters could lead to something in the next book.  What that is, I have no idea, but I can’t wait to read the next one to find out.  This is one book I would recommend to everyone.  I know zombies aren’t everyone’s thing, but everything else in this book makes it worth reading.

4 stars,  I didn’t love Dread Nation, but I still think it’s a great book, and one worth reading.