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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 198

Dread Nation is the first of a series of novels by Justina Ireland. The setting of Dread Nation is a fictional version of the United States, in which the Civil War ended differently than the actual, historical Civil War. In this novel, the dead have been resurrected as zombies, which has altered the War Between the States (which is what the Civil War is called in the fictional universe). African American and Native American children are forced to be "re-educated," a process in which children of color are trained in combat skills to eliminate the zombies.

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Jane McKeene is the protagonist of the novel and is educated in weaponry. Jane completes her training at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore and plans to return to Kentucky. All the while, politicians from the East Coast talk of returning the United States to its former glory, restoring the status quo from before the dead came back to life. Soon, however, the powerful and wealthy families of Baltimore begin to disappear mysteriously. Along with her ex-boyfriend and a rival at the academy, Jane fights against a small group of Baltimore's elite who conspired against her to gain political control.

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