To start, I have no idea what I was thinking when I decided I HAD to read this. I shall quantify this by saying, as someone who has lived her intire life dealing with the reality of slaver, racism, and mysoginy, I despise dealing with it in my fantasy world. I actively avoide books and movies that are racially charged or heavy with the sexism. Sometimes you can't avoid it, and sometime and book/movie is so effing fantastic that I can give it a pass. Dread Nation is going on the list. But make no mistake, the racism really grated on me. Also, it was in first person perspective, which I normally loathe; this was not bad.
With that being said, this was an amazing story, and what drew it to me was zombies, combined with historical fiction, and black people in the forefront. The characters were fun and likeable, even when they were unliekable. The world building was amazing and the writing was incredible!
We follow Jane McKeene a half black/white girl who is a student at Miss Preston's School for Negro Girls (I think that's what it was called.) Basically when the dead decided to get up and walk during the battle of Gettysburg The Civil War "ended" and the war vs the Dead began. The North still "won" and blacks were given freedom, but not really. They, along with indigenous tribes were swooped and placed in combat schools where they taught them how to be on the frontlines in the battle against the dead, as well as beat their culture and "savageness" out of them so that they can better serve their white betters. Sigh, I'm letting the bitterness bleed into the review.
Anyway Jane gets thrust into crazy adventures and all around bad situations with her nemisise Kathrine Devaraux, who is also of mixed race, but a goody-goofy know-it-all, which irks Jane to no end. There are devious plots, secret "utopia" towns, crazy scientists with vaccines and terrible experiments. There is also the dead, which the characters refer to as shamblers. There's a lot of death, allies, betrayals and grudging friendships.
I've heard the narrator before and they were amazing. They captured the voices and brought the world to life.
Just read/listen to it; it was great!