Dead Reckoning

Dead Recknoning

Author: Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill

Publication: 2012, Bloomsbury

Pages: 324

Overall Rating:   bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_25_zps13f4f4eb[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Jett Gallatin has disguised herself as a boy and a gunslinger to search for her brother through the dusty towns of 1860’s Texas.  There she meets up with White Fox, a young man adopted into the Sac and Fox tribe and serving as a tracker for the US Army, as well as Honoria Gibbons – itinerant inventor and myth buster, travelling the plains in her steam driven wagon.  Jett is riding hell for leather to escape the town of Alsop, which has just been overrun by a horde of the undead.  Working with White Fox and Honoria, it’s up to Jett to find out where the zombies are coming from, and stop them before they can spread their deadly plague all the way across Texas.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: Lackey and Edgehill do a wonderful job of blending old west history and culture with tidbits of cutting edge 1860’s science and religious mania, creating a Western that should easily appeal to modern teen sensibilities without sacrificing the hardscrabble ethos of the frontier.

And you’ll love their trio of main characters.  Soft spoken but brave White Fox.  Jett, who longs to live as a woman but has carved out a place for herself in the world of the Western gunslinger and can shoot, drink, swear, and play cards with the best of them.  And Honoria, who places science above everything, and believes in her ability to think herself out of any situation, no matter how dangerous.

What I Liked the Least: My only real complaint – other than the fact that Lackey and Edgehill incorporated a fair bit of old west vocabulary into their dialogue without a glossary – was that the zombies came onto the scene in chapter one completely out of nowhere in a way that felt a little too jarring.  I would have preferred a bit more a lead-in, a sense of building dread, letting us know that something terrible is about to happen.  As it is, the opening felt a bit too rushed.

How Good was the Action? There isn’t as much action as I would have expected for a zombie story, but a few decent scenes do crop up, especially towards the climax.  Is it great action?  No, but there’s a fair bit of suspense and the authors do a decent job of propelling the story forward to its conclusion and keeping us excited along the way.

How Engaging was the Story?  Lackey and Edgehill have created a genre-bending mix of western, zombie horror and scientific mystery.  The play between Jett – with her in-your-face, rough and tumble approach to problems – and Honoria – who puts science, practicality and rational thought above all else – makes for a lot of great natural tension, with White Fox in the middle to help balance things out.   I found myself eagerly looking forward to the explanation for how and why the zombies came to take over this little corner of Texas.

Overall Assessment: A fun, relatively light, genre bending experience that’s short on the action, but has enough suspense, mystery, and awesome character interactions to keep the story trucking along.

Profanity: Some – but nothing too outrageous.

Sex: Nothing other than a bit of mild innuendo.

Violence: Definitely.  What else would you expect in a zombie tale?  That said it’s far less violent and bloody than books like Rot and Ruin or The Enemy, in large part because guns, axes, and swords seem to be completely ineffective against Lackey and Edgehill’s zombies.

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