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Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey
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Dead Reckoning (edition 2012)

by Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill

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8911134,698 (3.43)3
Member:SunnySD
Title:Dead Reckoning
Authors:Mercedes Lackey
Other authors:Rosemary Edghill
Info:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, YA, young adult, zombies, old west, steampunk, inventors, gunslingers, scouts, massacres

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Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
See the full review on Short & Sweet Reviews!

Dead Reckoning is a novel that manages to combine several interesting genres into one story: zombies, westerns, and steampunk, all set against the backdrop of the post-Civil War US. Amazingly, no one aspect of this totally overwhelms the others. It truly is a steampunk zombie western, rather than just a zombie story with a few hints of the wild west.

The story is easy to get into and is mostly well-paced, although there were a few spots where things seemed to drag. The three main characters -- Jett, White Fox, and Gibbons -- are relatively well defined, even if they do seem like contemporary YA stereotypes. Jett is a girl posing as a boy, with plenty of attitude and smarts. White Fox has a mysterious past and is the strong, silent type. Gibbons is a scientist who doesn't behave like your traditional young woman in the 1860s. There are the tiniest hints of romantic possibilities, but this story is in no way a love triangle, or even an unrequited-crush triangle. Despite the fact that you can find similar characters in any number of YA books, the three of them still make a quirky trio whose exploits are easy to get invested in. Each of the three have their own secrets, and bits of backstory are sprinkled throughout the story. ( )
  goorgoahead | Dec 4, 2013 |
I struggled with the story's opening. The paragraph establishing Jett's secret identity was a mess. First I thought Jasper was her twin brother, and Philip and Philippa her siblings. And the time line for when she played acted being a boy was muddled with being separated by the war. This confusing introduction was followed hard by Jett's less than convincing reasons why her boy persona had to be a flashy, attention grabbing shootist (if she has the real skills to protect herself with a gun, why pick the over the top costume that guarantees she's going to have a confrontation with someone in every new town?), and these two narrative snafu's made it hard for me get invested in the story.

Unfortunately, even a third of the way in I wasn't any more interested. Jett and White Fox and Gibbons are each caricatures of their own particular flavor, and the tomboy, bluestocking, stalwart Indian scout trio made for super awkward fire side chats. I got as far as tracking the zombie horde to a cult before I couldn't take it any longer, both Jett and Gibbons' POV are clunkey with vernacular.
1 vote Capnrandm | Apr 15, 2013 |
Originally posted here.

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. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
an interesting take on the zombie craze.
take the wild west, a southern belle masquerading as a gunslinger, a suffragist female scientist, and a native american add a zombie mystery, and you've got dead reckoning.
some parts were predictable, some were weird, but all were enjoyable. I really liked the different take on zombies. sometimes the bleak future zombie novels get to be a bit much, so seeing a historic take was really interesting. it felt a little world war z to me- the mysteries in the past might be zombie attacks. good for dystopia fans, steampunk fans, history fans, and I think boys will enjoy this as well. there was no romance/love story, which I found to be a refreshing change. every story doesn't need a tragic romance. overall, I quite liked this one. ( )
  librarydanielle | Apr 1, 2013 |
I had a lot of unexpected fun with this quick-moving tale of zombies in Texas - even when the steampunk aspect came in unexpectedly I was more than game for a late addition. I'm not one much for reading western novels in general; I grew up with a Louis L'Amour and Tony Hillerman-novel-guzzling dad and though he and I can find common ground on fantasy and science fiction (less so on contemporary YA romances, though I can't imagine why..), I rarely stray into his most beloved genre. I'm glad I took a chance here with Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill - sure, their version of the Wild Wild West has zombies and steampunk also going for it, but at the heart of it, Dead Reckoning is a darn good Western with gunslingers, smart women and barfights. I have read numerous other novels by Mercedes Lackey, though they are usually of the fantasy (Valdemar series, etc.) and fairytale retelling ilk (The Five Hundred Kingdoms series). This is a marked departure for her and I can't help but cast Ms. Rosemary Edghill as the beneficial influence - which is just a long-winded way of me saying that I enjoyed this novel of Lackey's far more than the previous eight by her I'd read.

In 1867 West Texas, "Jett Gallatin" is a gunslinger "someone who lives and died by the gun" working her his way further and further West. Most of what is surface about Jett is utterly false - he is a she, and not even an adult. What is real about her is her talent with her guns, her independence and her own brand of knowledge. Her stated goal is finding her missing brother "Jasper" but several other factors added up to the 17-year-olds exodus from her original home in Louisiana. In this alternate version of America, not only is steam-power the new technology and hope for advancement, but the victorious North of the Civil War is definitely an antagonistic force for Jett personally. Fleeing the sack of her home and the razing of her town by the Union forces, Jett possesses some unfavorable views about "bluebellies" and "Union tyranny" but the strength of her personality overrides any distaste for her personal politics. Jett has a distinct dialect all her own ("Wonder if throwing my beer in his face will cool him down peaceable-like?") - on the whole, it might be a bit cliched but it fits for the persona Philippa Jett has created for her own safety. I appreciated the restraint the authors showed with regards to Jett's personal history. It isn't just handed out on a platter in an infodump, but is slowly revealed, piece by piece, memory by memory.

An immediate point in Dead Reckoning's favor is that it doesn't wait around and stall for action. There are zombies present and wreaking havoc by page thirteen of chapter one (in the ARC version at least) and there's an implicit promise for more zombies and death later on. The first fight is quick and bloody affair and one that leads to a chain of events stretching back two years, leading Jett into a deadly mystery and the two odd fellows she falls in with. While unfortunately the zombie action didn't stay as constant as the intial contact had me hoping and did drop off for a while during the mid-part of the novel, the different methods and ideas for the "zuvembie"/reanimated dead themselves were nicely thought out. The antagonist of the novel might suffer from the most extreme case of Syndrome Syndrome (a term I culled/created from The Incredibles to use whenever a villain conveniently explains his nefarious plans to the hero before killing them) I've ever read seen, but his methodology, reason and modus operandi were at least fun to try and unravel.

Honoria (any M*A*S*H fans out there? No? Just me? Ok) Verity Providentia Gibbons, she of that unholy mouthful of a name and a similarly perpetually running mouth, is a thoroughly clever and unusual young woman for the days and customs in which she lives. While this book is rather light on steampunk (and that's a relief after the mess that is The Steampunk Chronicles), the few additions shown in Dead Reckoning used are used sparsely and, most importantly, believably. As an independent investigator of all things paranormal, Honoria ventures alone into what some might call 'fool-hardy adventures' but girlfriend comes prepared with three Gatling guns. She's also the mind behind the slight steampunkery evident in the novel as the "Auto-Tachypode" comes across as a steam-powered, whirligigged "horseless wagon" or proto-car. Honoria is a multi-faceted character - she's smart ("Science first. Then vapors."), protective, and loyal above all. She also is a prime example of how brilliant people aren't above being occasionally, thoughtless brainless for Science! There are a lot of similarities between her and Jett, once they get past the outer, major discrepancies. They are both two women who have had to work hard and against all convention to get what they want, and be where they want. There's an easy rapport despite the occasional bickering - even third character White Fox doesn't detract from the camaraderie in the cast. He actually rounds the gunslinger and the talkative inventor both, in very different manners. In fact all three are fish out of water - White Fox, as a white man reared among a native tribe, feels that he doesn't belong to either world. The three characters complement each other well, all without adding an unnecessary romance, or heaven forbid, a love triangle into the fray.

Despite being a bit short on the murdery death I thought I would be getting, Dead Reckoning is a winner. Don't let any of the labels attached to it scare you off, be it "western", "steampunk" or "zombie" - this is a quick-moving and fantastic read for a few hours. The steampunk part of the novel doesn't come off as mere convenience for the plot but is nicely enveloped into the tale, adding a further level of atmosphere and interest to the world Jett, Honoria and White Fox live in. The ending is final for the main plot of the book, but there are hints that more in this vein/series could be coming. Several ideas are left open for further exploration, and I hope there is demand for such. I want sequels. ( )
  msjessie | Feb 5, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mercedes Lackeyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edghill, RosemaryAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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In 1867 Texas, Jett, a girl passing as a boy while seeking her long-lost twin brother, joins forces with Honoraria Gibbons, an inventor, and White Fox, a young Army scout, to investigate a zombie army that is terrorizing the West.

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