by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Expected Publication Date: 06.05.2012
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 of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.My Thoughts: What a different, unique read! Okay, we've got Western, Steampunk, and zombies, plus two incredibly kick ass heroines and a hero that's been raised by Indians. I kind of expected this book to suck, because it just seemed impossible that all these elements could come together and make a great read, but it all comes together in a fantastic way.
It took me about a chapter or two before I settled into the voice of the novel, but the authors did a great job using speech and vocabulary from the days of the Wild West but it's as fast paced as most YA books.Not that I'm complaining! It was nice to read a book that really tries to stay true to the time period. I used to read a lot of Historical Romance, and the best reads were always the ones that the authors had done a little research on before writing, and the worse ones always had a lot of modern dialogue and spotty history events.
Now for the characters:
Jett, dressed as a man, is struggling to stay tough and deal with zombies, all the while in search of her twin brother. Jett was probably my favorite character, she tried so hard and even when she was afraid she was brave. She took a lot of personal responsibility, and then she took a little more. She's also the first character we meet, and the one we learn the most about. And out of all three of the characters, she was the one that I was able to understand the most.
Gibbons was... unique. As a young woman, traveling on her own in a steam wagon, and a scientist to boot she was both amusing and annoying, but again, a very strong heroine. There is no question she's not interesting in answering- as long as she can do it with science! In a lot of ways, Jett is more feminine than Gibbons, since until the war Jett was all girl and Gibbons has been raised to behave as she pleases. I would have loved to have seen Gibbon's father join the trio because he sounded like a very interesting character!
The friendship that forms between the two young woman reminds me of other great female friendships- Rizzoli and Isles, Laverne and Shirley, Blair and Serena... okay, maybe strike the last one.
Then there's White Fox. Sure, he gets ignored in the summary, but he's definitely part of the story, with chapters alternating between him, Gibbons and Jett. Unlike the women, we learn the least about White Fox, other than he was raised by Indians. He and Jett are similar, and if this was a typical YA book then no doubt they'd be dating by the fifth chapter. As it is, there was definitely something between them, which surprised me because somehow I got the impression from the back of the book that Gibbons and Jett might be a potential couple. Which, I imagine, will certainly end up the topic of lots of fan fic if this book gains some popularity.
And that brings me to a crucial point. I really enjoyed this book (as a 34 year old), but I'm not sure it's quite in the YA realm. Yes, Jett, Gibbons and White Fox are around the 17-20 age range, but given the world they live in they are leap years above most teens nowadays. I do think older teens will like it, but it could be marketed successfully to adults and fans of Steampunk. I'll be interested to see how other YA reviewers, who are actually still young adults themselves, react to this book.
Overall, I really liked Dead Reckoning. It's a great western novel, a great zombie novel, and a good introduction to steampunk. I would have liked a bit more background on all the characters, and I really wanted more information on Jett's twin brother, but I'm hoping there's some sequels. I liked that the women were just as capable, and in most cases even more capable, as the men. I liked that Jett was a gunslinger and Gibbons designed and drove a steam wagon, and I really liked that White Fox didn't have any problem hanging with such women. I would definitely recommend this book!
Dead Reckoning gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.