My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Publisher - Balzier + Bray
Source - Competition win
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
Meet Jane, forced from her family to train to defend and keep safe families with money, to become an Attendant. Effiencent in slaughtering zombies but also etiquette so as to behave in an acceptable manner in front of the families and their friends. Jane isn't the only one, Miss Prenton's school of Combat is one of the better ones, taking in children under the Native and Negro Reeducation Act. Racism is alive and well and America will use it to keep their "better" families safe and use the "undesirables" of what is left of society to protect the elites!
This book is so infuriating in parts, the main character Jane is a delight, she is sassy, smart and has her own plan. She needs to bow to some of the rules but she won't allow herself to be compromised which leads her to being in many hot water situations.
Told in first person narrative we learn a bit about Jane's upbringing and day to day life and issues within the school and how these girls are treated, what the end goal is. The author has taken slavery and put it into an apocalyptic situation, exploring some of the most horrific behaviours of human beings. Whilst this is of course a work of fiction, the school aspect is taken from very real events from history. The kids in America from Native families had been forcibly removed and sent to "schools" to be taught how to be civilised. At the end of the book the author has included some books readers can check out to read more about this, pretty shocking.
The book itself is an interesting take on the zombie apocalypse, the racism, supreme-ism is probably more in the story than that of the apocalypse but both interweave and an interesting read. I can't imagine anyone reading this and not being upset or annoyed at some of the behaviours of the characters but you will love Jane. She is strong, loyal, brave, fearless and just a great female character. This was my first dance with this author I would absolutely read her again, 3.5/5 for me this time.