DEATHLESS DIVIDE BY JUSTINA IRELAND
The long awaited and much anticipated sequel to Dread Nation, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland does not disappoint. The continuation of this historical fiction with a zombie twist and post-Civil War post-Apocalypse (as described in a July 2019 MarginNotes post by Jill Davidson) saga picks up where Dread Nation concluded. Jane McKeene, her classmate Katherine Devereaux, and Jane’s past love Jackson have fled Summerland along with a rag-tag ensemble of characters in hopes of escaping the undead hordes by finding shelter and safety in Nicodemus. Because Nicodemus is a fortified town founded by freed slaves and Quakers, they also hope to escape the racial inequality and cruelty they experienced in Summerland. Unfortunately, the road to Nicodemus is paved with danger and heartache for Jane and her companions.
While the dangers and racial intolerance of Summerland follow Jane and Katherine to Nicodemus, they begin to forge a deep friendship and mutual respect for one another, as they continue to battle shamblers, injustice and unlikely foes until they are torn apart by tragedy. Jane and Katherine both continue west eventually making their way to California. One as a bounty hunter with a legendary reputation and the other working as security on a passenger steamship. Katherine continues to be driven by a chance of a better life in San Francisco and later in Haven, a small mountain town, and Jane by a deep-seated need for revenge against someone she thought was an ally and friend.
Deathless Divide, like its predecessor, Dread Nation, continues the fast-paced and fascinating tale. The unlikely blend of history, social commentary, and the undead continues the themes of racism, power, greed, and gender inequality. Once I started it, I did not want to stop listening and when finished, I could not stop thinking about the characters and what might come next.