Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Post-Civil War epic zombie battles that are fought by bad-ass teenage girls? What more do you want?  Justina Ireland has created an amazing world that is both horrifying and inspirational.  

Jane McKeene has a very complicated life. Born to a wealthy mother and pampered as a child, her life takes a dramatic turn when she's enrolled at the Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore.  Training to become a skilled zombie slayer is hard work, made even more difficult by the constant racism and sexism she faces.  Becoming an Attendant, a bodyguard for the wealthy whites, is one way to a better life.  Unfortunately for Jane, her chance at a better life is taken away when she is caught trying to locate the families who have gone missing in the area.  When Jane and two of her friends find themselves on a train headed west, she knows their days are numbered.  What Jane finds next is even more frightening than zombies.  

Jane is such a smart and strong character.  Her determination and will to live is inspiring.  No matter how horrible her circumstances became, she always had a plan to get her through another day.  Much of this was hard to read, not because of bad writing-quite the opposite.  The way that people of color were treated in history, and today, is appalling.  When Jane is acting as an Attendant at a fancy dinner party, she contemplates her future being treated as a piece of furniture-useful, nice to look at, but replaceable and that is not how she wants to spend the rest of her life.  

This is an absolutely amazing book.  I feel like the ending left an opening for another book and I'd really like to see what comes next in this world.

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Dread Nation
By Justina Ireland