Review: Dead Reckoning

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Dead ReckoningDead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 5, 2012
Genres: Historical, Horror, Steampunk, Western
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans ofCowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

First Sentence: “Jett Gallatin expected trouble in Alsop, Texas—but not zombies”

If Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and Wild, Wild West had a lovechild, it would be Dead Reckoning. The book is filled with zombie mayhem from beginning to end in a wild west, steampunk setting. Add in a girl dressed as a boy, some crazy scientists, and religious cult, and you’ve got the makings for one action-packed ride.

The zombies are pretty creepy, although the addition of the cult is what REALLY makes the whole thing terrifying. Again, the zombies aren’t the focal point. They are a bit distinct from the zombies I’ve encountered in other novels. These are a bit shambly and slow, but they are crazy strong, and almost impossible to dispatch. These zombies, like the origin of the world ‘zombie,’ are based on voodoo legend. One thing I’m bothered by is the use of the word zombie. It seems that its usage did originate in roughly that time period, but it still felt weird to hear people talking about the Confederacy and zombies in one breath.

The creepy factor they definitely got down, as well as the western bits and the steampunkery with the vehicle and the science. I would have liked to see a bit more humor in it, though. Nothing in the book really made me laugh, and this is a premise that would definitely have been improved with humor. I mean, any gender bender ought to have some amount of humor, because there are so many confusions that can happen.

I read this book in just a couple of hours, one sitting. It’s a really fun read, but there wasn’t too much more to it for me. Character development is seriously lacking. Both Jett and Gibbons are seriously hardcore women, and, of course, I liked that. However, they were still lacking in any real depth. And they were the best-developed characters. White Fox completely lacks personality. Seriously. He was like so boring. I was also a little confused about why his character was a white man raised by an Indian tribe, rather than just being native. There could have been diversity here, but there isn’t.

The other thing about this, which makes me suspect they may be planning to make this a series, is that there are a lot of dropped plot threads. Jett never finds her brother. Despite some comments about how attractive the characters are and some foreshadowing of romance, nothing ever comes close to happening in that department. It just didn’t really feel finished to me.

Still, if you want a mindless (zombie pun) read with lots of zombie action that you can dispatch quickly, Dead Reckoning will definitely fulfill your needs. I don’t recommend this to anyone looking for a dark, witty, impressively-written novel; this is for fun only.

Favorite Quote:

“Gibbons stifled a tiny sigh of exasperation at hearing the familiar sentiment. In her experience, there was no obstacle that did not fall before the power of the mind. Far be it from her to point out yet again that the majority of the lady pioneers here in the West spent the greater part of their lives either alone while their husbands were out hunting or trapping or tilling the soil—or performing those tasks themselves when one of the perils White Fox had listed carried the husbands off. Both men and women had lecture Gibbons on the unsuitability of her chosen vocation, and when she marshaled her arguments, said, ‘But that’s different!’ (How it was different, no one was ever quite able to explain to her satisfaction.)”

6 responses to “Review: Dead Reckoning”

  1. This is such a well-written review! I’ve heard wonderful things about Mercedes Lackey, but it sounds like this one falls a bit short of the mark for her. I’m not big on zombie novels, so I likely won’t read this one anyway, but I enjoyed reading your review all the same 🙂

    • Christina says:

      I’ve heard great things about Lackey as well, though this was my first experience. This very much isn’t her usual kind of book, so I am definitely willing to try some other things. I was told to start with Arrows of the Queen.

  2. I was on the fence about this book but now I don’t think I’ll read it (or at least wait a long while). Truthfully the only thing that interested me was the wild west part cause zombies just freak me Thanks for the honest review!

    • Christina says:

      Awww, well, there’s a book coming out later this year that’s steampunk and wild west called The Friday Society. Maybe that will fit the bill?

  3. This book is my first Lackey experience and so far I have to say I am not in love. Like, I started it a few weeks ago and just haven’t felt a pull or a compulsion to read it. I’m still at 35% of the way in. I guess I’ll have to take some time and just sit down and read it, because you said it’s a one-sitting few hours sort of book.

    I am glad I am not alone with my lack of love for this book.

    • Christina says:

      It was my first Lackey as well, and I’m not going to judge her based on it, because I know a lot of authors go downhill throughout their careers, especially if they’re as prolific as Lackey.

      I think it might have been rough to spread this out. It was a fun, but completely mindless read. There wasn’t anything to it.

      Def didn’t love. I’ll probably forget all about this one in a couple of weeks.

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