June 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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?
A steampunk, wild west, zombie horror, gender bender adventure. A book like this will either do really well or fail miserably. Thankfully, Dead Reckoning did not fail. It's nothing terribly serious, just a fun romp through all the genres. It's not too gory, even for a zombie book. No unnecessary romances. Just sleuthing and sciencing and exploding, and escaping and actually very little gun slinging. It is quick paced, easily read in just a day or two.
The characters are fun. Jett is strong and lives her disguise. She is always the gambling gunslinger outlaw. Only every now and then does her femininity manifest, like when she fusses over her horse when he returns unharmed after a run in with zombies. Gibbons is annoyingly committed to science and rationality even when the pursuit of science could get her killed, but that's what makes her fun. White Fox, he actually isn't really fleshed out. Side note complaint: Why didn't Lackey and Edghill just make White Fox Native American? I get the whole child-of-two-worlds-so-he-belongs-to-neither thing. But seriously, why not just make him Native American? Gibbons and Jett would have been fine with it. Does the entire cast have to be white? Don't start going off on whether it would be plausible or not; you have zombies, for crying out loud! Plausibility no longer applies.
There is some major villain monologuing explaining just exactly how and why he accomplished his master scheme. That could have been handled more skillfully. And some loose strings are left hanging. You inject Jett with a vial full of poison and we're not ever going to address that again? That should have some effect on her even if it doesn't kill her.
Dead Reckoning is genre blending done well. It's not the book for you if you're looking for a pure western or pure steampunk or a pure zombie horror, but it's a light combination of all three. I see potential for sequels and would probably have to pick them up.