RELEASE DATE: April 03rd, 2018
AUTHOR: Justina Ireland
GENRE: Young-Adult, Historical Fantasy, Horror.
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
SUMMARY: 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.
Auntie Aggie used to say I was like as not to poke Satan with a stick just for fun. Guess not much has changed.
I didn’t loved Justina Ireland’s Vengeance Bound, but I wanted to give this a shot because it says black women killing Zombies during the American Reconstruction era. Sounds exciting, isn’t it? At the beginning, the story didn’t hold my interest because nothing amazing seems to be happening except for some zombie killing, but the second half saved this book for me. I thought I wouldn’t love it, but I ended up loving it. I enjoyed the second half more than the first half. I grew to love our sassy protagonist Jane. She was different from the other typical YA heroines and I loved how unapologetic she was in this book. The setting was good and I loved the whole concept, it’s really what made me pick this up.
The story takes place in 1880’s after civil war has ended and the dead began to rise. Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields. Although slavery was abolished, the Negros and the Native Americans are still not accepted as an equal. To fight off the zombies aka the shamblers, the children of native Americans and the Negros are send off to a combat training school as soon as they’re come to an age. Since young age Jane McKeene trained at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore to become an attendant who’re skilled in weaponry and etiquette. Their job is to protect the white citizen they’re assigned to. Jane is quite good at combat but she’s pretty bad in etiquette. To have a chance for a better life, she needs to become an attendant or else fight the dead in the battlefield which is literally a death sentence. Jane isn’t interested in politics, but when some of the family around Baltimore goes missing she starts to get curious. When her old friend/flame Red Jack requests her help in finding his missing sister, she couldn’t say no. Together with her frenemy Katherine they investigate the missing family which soon lands them in a huge trouble named Summerland. Can Jane and her friends escape these powerful enemies who won’t hesitant to kill them?
I absolutely loved Jane! She’s Bi-sexual, Bi-racial, and totally badass. At the beginning, I didn’t liked her, but soon her sassiness and humor won me over. She’s pretty tough, impulsive, clever, and witty. She always stood up for what she believed in and never gave up hope. I also liked Katherine. She’s quite opposite to Jane, but together they make a great team. They didn’t get along well with each other at the start, but slowly they grew into best friends. Their friendship is definitely one of the best parts in this book. And BTW she’s not a love interest. Red Jack is Jane’s old flame who makes surprising appearances in the story. I liked his fun personality and also the mysterious vibes he gave. I wish he had more part in this book. There’s also another character that I liked who appears in the second half, but mentioning him might be a little bit spoiler. There isn’t much romance in this book, but I believe there’s going to be more of it in the next book.
The plot was interesting, entertaining and engaging, but honestly it’s not something that’ll blow your mind away. Although I enjoyed the book, I felt that it lacked in building excitement and thrill. Nonetheless, it was really a good read. It has a slow start, but the pace improves as the story progresses. I loved the diversity and the author did a great job in exploring racism. I actually thought this was fighting against the scary zombies, but man power hungry humans are far more scarier than them. I loved the sassy protagonist who’s different from the typical YA heroine’s. She has a distinctive voice that sets her apart from the others. I liked the surprising twists and turns even though some of them were predictable. I enjoyed the action scenes, they’re always my favorite parts in a book. The whole book was written in Jane’s first person POV but I think this should’ve been written in multiple POV’s. I really wanted to know more about Katherine and also Red Jack. The whole setting was pretty good although there’s not much world building in it.
Overall, I loved this book! It’s a great read that focuses on friendship, racism, sexism, politics, and history. There’s no huge cliffhanger at the end, but another adventure awaits for our heroine in the next book and I can’t wait to read it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves action packed YA historical reads with a sassy heroine. If you can’t handle gore, death, racism, and violence then this book isn’t for you.
MY RATING:[4/5 Stars]