There is so much to love within Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide and really nothing to hate or even mildly dislike. Picking up at the very end of Dread Nation, we see Jane and Katherine once again fighting for their lives against the Restless Dead. This time around, these dead are not nearly as vile and dangerous as other very-much-alive humans. In fact, it is as if Dread Nation sets the stage for Deathless Divide, to show what Jane and Katherine faced in order to explain their actions now, and their actions are the heart of this sequel.
Easy to read and highly entertaining, Ms. Ireland drives home the idea that everything was dangerous for Black Americans back in the day (and even now). Meant to disturb as much as educate, readers explore the unfairness of other immigrants obtaining certain freedoms and a semblance of justice when Black Americans maintain their status as the lowliest of the low. Ms. Ireland touches on the fact that even Native Americans were slaveowners, a fact that still is mind-blowing no matter how many times one reads about it. Most importantly, she gives a voice to the numerous former slaves who made their way west after the Civil War. It’s just that her version has zombies as the reason for their migration.
Jane and Katherine are perfect foils for each other. They complement each other so well in many ways but challenge each other when necessary. This becomes particularly important as one of them heads down a dangerous path of revenge and hatred. Given the starting point of their relationship, to see them now proves how friends come from the most unlikely of places.
Deathless Divide has fantastic characters, explores a fascinating (albeit reimagined) part of history, and contains great messaging. Not only does it provide greater insight into the unique struggle Black Americans faced after the war, but it also reminds us that our family includes those with whom we choose to surround ourselves.