If you haven’t been reading Justina Ireland, put her on your TBR list - like right now. Her books and stories are unlike a lot of teen fiction that I’ve been reading recently and they’re so good! I picked up one of the anthologies she wrote for and absolutely loved her short story, so I went on to find that she’s written a few other things that were all equally as well-written. If you’re a fan of stories that touch on tough topics without getting too heavy, definitely check her out!
Imagine a cross between World War Z and Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies - that’s what you get when you read Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation (TN IRE). Not only is this a story about the zombie apocalypse, but it’s also a powerful social commentary about the tough topics of oppression, racism, and slavery in Civil War America. When the dead begin to walk the battlefields of the Civil War, new laws form, which force Native American and African children to attend combat schools to be trained to kill the risen dead. Our heroine, Jane McKeene, is sent to one of these schools and studies to become an Attendant, which would make her a bodyguard for a wealthy white family and for African and Native American girls like Jane, it’s one of the only options she has. But when Baltimore families start going missing, she becomes entangled in a dangerous conspiracy that could prove to be bigger than she could’ve imagined. Jane is such a wonderful heroine and I loved every minute of this book. Now I can’t wait to read the sequel, Deathless Divide, which is coming out next year!
If you’re more into short story anthologies, you should definitely check out the anthologies that Justina Ireland has written short stories for. Feral Youth (TN FER) is written by several different authors about ten troubled teens who end up at an alternative camp for juvenile offenders. Each story ranges from realistic to slightly paranormal - it reminds me a lot of Ellen Hopkins’ books! If you’re more a fan of love triangles, Three Sides of a Heart (Jh THR) is for you. This one covers a range of genres such as paranormal, sci-fi, and realistic fiction and all of them have some sort of love triangle involved. Lastly, Black Enough (TN BLA) offers unique perspectives on what it means to be young and black in America nowadays. Each story explores different aspects of the Black experience including topics such as being part of a marginalized group, mental health, and sexuality. Each one of these anthologies has something for just about anyone and as you might expect, Justina Ireland’s entries are so good!