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If the Civil War ended with zombies

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'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland
'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Jessica Cox, a bookseller at Plot Twist Bookstore in Ankeny, Iowa.

"Dread Nation" tells the story of a young girl named Jane in the aftermath of the Civil War.

But this Civil War doesn't follow what the history books say. In "Dread Nation," the war ends at the Battle of Gettysburg, when the dead begin to rise and the zombie apocalypse begins.

"Not only is it fantasy and fun and zombies," said bookseller Jessica Cox. "But you are also dealing with a nation that was split in half, trying to figure out how to work together when you don't see eye-to-eye."

The book takes on the issue of race relations, in the chaos of the zombie epidemic. The people in charge establish combat schools that are similar, Cox said, to the federal boarding schools where young Native Americans were once sent.

The schools are filled with black and mixed-race students who were once slaves. At the schools "they teach them to fight zombies, and then they are indentured out to wealthy families as servants and bodyguards and companions."

It wasn't just the concept that drew her, Cox said, but the writing: "I love to see well-written books do well on the best-seller list."

"I thought the characters were unbelievably well done. It's a very quick read."

Dread Nation Dread Nation