I had this book in my hold queue for a long time before I released it and it dropped into my read queue. I'm fairly certain it was on a Book Riot young adult book, but it has zombies in it, so, yeah, I read it.
This was a very fun read. The premise is that a zombie epidemic starts sometime during the Battle of Gettysburg, which lasted three days in our timeline, a different amount in the America of Dread Nation. The Civil War ended as the living now united against the dead. Except the attitudes and idiocy of the times didn't change, the slave owners still believed the slaves weren't people, still believed they were somehow entitled to subjugate another person, still believed in their own collective superiority. In this world, the ex-slaves and Native Americans were forced into combat schools, where they were trained to kill the dead.
Of course. Because once you have entitlement, you can't not have that entitlement until said entitle-ees are dead (typically of old age, tbh).
This was a fun read. Ireland portrays the prejudices well, gives us a heroine we can root for (root for, verb, informal, support or hope for the success of (a person or group entering a contest or undertaking a challenge): the whole of this club is rooting for him), and creates action and mystery at the same time. The letters to and from the heroine and her mother are heartbreaking in a way, but further the plot in a good way.
If you're into zombie fiction, this is a good book to pick up. If you're not into zombie fiction, you might still enjoy the heroine's sass, the book is worth reading.
“What happened then?” I asked, because there’s nothing better than the memories of others when you’re little and have no stories of your own.
I’ve heard enough political speeches to know that letting rich white city folk think that we’ve made even a small part of America safe again is a better stump speech than telling them that we’re still in trouble five years after the Army stopped fighting the dead.
Momma used to tell me, “Deny it until they’ve got you dead to rights, sugar. If they can’t prove it, it never happened.” It’s good advice, and it’s served me well.
But that’s the way life goes most of the time: the thing you least count on comes along and ruins everything else you got planned.
The boy had always been a bully, and the thing about bullies is they never learn how to run like the rest of us do.
In my head the ideas are so clear and make perfect sense, but when the words come out they’re a mess.
I shrug. “Sometimes you have to live down to people’s expectations, Kate. If you can do that, you’ll get much further in life.
That last bit is a lie, but the easiest lie to tell is the one people want to believe.
But when you think of shamblers as things, as mindless creatures who have to be put down so that we might live, ending them gets to be a lot easier. The farmer doesn’t cry over slaughtering a hog.
“Jane, your point is well taken, but heroism means little when it rests on lawlessness."
Yeah, what? No.
Miss Preston was convinced that the best way to correct minor misconduct was a little drudgery, and housework was the pinnacle of drudge.
This amused me.
Still, the thought of them together is enough to make me more than a little stabby. Jealousy is a terrible thing, and I swallow the emotion down hard as I can.
That’s the way it is when you fancy someone. Your heart starts doing the thinking, and your brain? Well, it gets left out of the equation until too late.
There was a big scary world beyond the boundaries of Rose Hill. I was bold, but not so foolhardy as to think there was something worthwhile on the other side of the barrier fence that kept the dead out.
And if folks could overlook the rumors of a white woman birthing a Negro, well, they could forgive just about anything, couldn’t they?
In Rachel’s mind, every ill that befell her was the work of someone else.
One of the other aunties, Auntie Eliza, once told me it was because Rachel was the major’s favorite before he went to war, and she liked the easy life he gave her. Rachel had adjusted to being owned, to being property, and she didn’t like the new situation, where she wasn’t nothing but a house servant with wages, a servant that had to work just as hard as everyone else.
“Surviving can make people right mean,” Auntie Aggie told me.
It’s a question I’ve refused to ask myself. I don’t want to think about what it would do to my world if Momma is dead.
I get an uncomfortable feeling like I’m sliding backward down a slope into a deep hole that I dug my own self.
"... That’s how men like the mayor maintained control. You believe strongly enough in an idea, nothing else much matters.”
I reckon we all have our childhood scars, whether we wear them on the outside or not.
“Look at you, with those pretty manners. Wherever did they find you?”
“At the junction of hard luck and bad times,” I answer. It’s something that my momma says.
But that means backing down from Cora, and I’ve seen her kind. She’ll do everything the people in charge tell her to, even if that means she ends up broken and bloody. She’s one of those people that never learned to breathe, never understood the true meaning of freedom. She’s a dog, happy even with a cruel master. She eats her three squares and takes her bit of pocket change and happily wears the collar around her throat, because that’s enough for her. But it ain’t for me.
"... I ain’t never going down there again if I can help it. But if you want answers, that’s where they are.”
A bark of laughter escapes from her. “Here you are flayed within an inch of your life and you’re asking after me.”
I sigh. “Sometimes it’s easier to think about other folks’ small hurts than your big ones.”
“You shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people, Mr. Gideon. I contain multitudes.”
I laughed at this one, well, because.
But I can’t change the past; I can only push headlong into an uncertain future. “Kate,”
Momma used to say there were lots of ways to survive. Don’t be afraid to pretend to be something you aren’t, Jane. Sometimes a little subterfuge and chicanery is in order and the quickest way to achieve one’s goal. It ain’t hard to imagine Ida pretending to be just another dumb colored girl in order to make it out here. Survival by any means necessary.
I’ve learned a lot in the past few years. Including that a group of panicked people ain’t that different from a herd of sheep. Nip at their heels a little and they’ll go wherever you tell them to.
Here’s a thing about me: I regret most of my actions five minutes after the fact. I’m rash in my decisions and I spend half my time trying to extricate myself from situations of my own making.
Alan’s jaw tightens and he looks straight ahead. “It was mostly the colored folks that fought the shamblers. No surprise there. Government pays to send them to those fancy schools while real men like me are left to fend for ourselves.”
So, in this story, Alan is a white guy. He believe that forced slavery of black people into killing zombies, which included forcing them into a re-education system which enabled them to be effective at killing zombies, was "fancy schools."
The unfortunate thing about this particular quote and thinking is that it is just_so_true. It's like Louis complaining he has to pay taxes, but he drives on the roads those taxes paid for. His kids go to the schools those taxes paid for. His devices use the GPS information that those taxes paid for. But, no, he complains and complains and complains and says everyone else has it better.
“It matters not, my dear. It is God’s wrath for our sins.” The sheriff lights his cigarette and looks out at the horizon. “The dead never walked until brother fought brother. Until we penitent folk betrayed one another.”
I wouldn't be surprised if this happened, too, in a zombie outbreak. It's about power and control in a fear-laden world.
I didn’t like the big girl, I ain’t never been a fan of snitches, but turning shambler is not a fate I’d wish on anyone, not even the girl who got me whipped.
Well, except for the guy she was planning on killing. Not the point.
“See, the problem in this world ain’t sinners, or even the dead. It is men who will step on anyone who stands in the way of their pursuit of power."