Oh boy. What a mess. This book didn't work for me on any conceivable level. The characters were hilariously shallow, the plot contrived, the dialogue wooden and unconvincing, and the prose simplistic and boring.
I didn't understand the point of the novel taking place during the American Civil War in any way. What was that all about? The random and simplistic history allusions sprinkled throughout seem forced and don't lend a shred authenticity to the story. Rather, these either jerked me back into the time where this story was supposed to be taking place (against all other impressions) or made me cringe at the author's weak attempt to convince me she "did her research". Let's not even get into the inaccuracies (or, if you believe the cop out afterward by the author, 'liberties') of the historical tidbits as we are limited by space here.
I get that this is supposed to be quirky fantasy -- or cyberpunk, steampunk, or whatever the hell it's being categorized as -- but throw us readers a bone here. We can check our disbelief at the door but only to a certain point before feeling insulted or cheated. Even if you take the wacky premise at face value there are enough plot holes, head-scratchers, and uncanny coincidences to leave any sane reader reeling. I won't get into specifics to avoid any spoilers but if you read this and pay any attention whatsoever you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. The back cover would suffice.
This all said, it does appear that this book appeals to certain readers. Some people swoon about the creative notion of putting toxic gas, zombies, an Ellen Ripley wannabe, and air pirates in an inexplicably Civil War-era story. More power to 'em.
Saay! Zombies. There's a fresh, unmined treasure trove of originality in this day and age. If the story could have included romantic, underwear-model teen vampires who randomly rip their shirts off that -- THAT!! -- would have been high entertainment.
Or has that been milked dry too?