Written by Lia Habel
Published October, 2011 by Del Ray
Genres: Dystopian, Zombies
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The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.
But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble… and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
I was worried when I started this book that Dearly, Departed would be just like every other ‘pretty cover’ book out there – a big fat disappointment. I’m so glad I was wrong! This story is full of adventure, ingenuity and creeptastic goodness!
It’s very hard to put this book into a singular category. We have a mix of Neo-Victorian (a re-imagined Victorian age with nifty gadgets, technology and holograms), Steampunk and Dystopian all woven together with a pretty scary zombie plotline. Dearly, Departed is a genius mix of things you’ve never read before – and for that, I was grateful. I always love my books new and unique, and this one certainly delivered!
I particularly liked the new ‘world’ Dearly, Departed was set in. Set in our future, on one of the only existing pieces of above-water land there is left, humanity has seperated into two ‘nations’, the Punks (a Steampunk-inspired group of people who are considered nothing more than ‘rebels’ by their opponents) and the New Victorians (citizens who have decided to re-inherit the Victorian way of life, with a few technological perks!). While this is a story enough on its own, Lia Habel throws in a wicked ‘Zombie Plague’ to turn everything upside down.
The world Nora Dearly lives in is expertly crafted. I particularly loved learning about the ins-and-outs of it all. It’s hard to believe that this is Lia Habel’s first novel! As I said, I was floored that the story within these pages was exciting and good! Many debut authors are given beautiful covers, but not often do the books live up to the expectations of the reader!
I was able to breeze through Dearly, Departed quite quickly, as the action is unrelenting and will keep you turning the pages. The one thing that threw me off, however, was the changing POV every chapter. I loved reading the chapters by Bram and Nora, but then Pamela got thrown into the mix and I found my interest wavering a little. While I did grow to enjoy Pamela’s chapters (seriously, near the end, I was LOVING her chapters and the character she’d become) I still didn’t find myself happy when faced with a chapter by Wolfe or Nora’s father, Victor. I understand and appreciate that their chapters were necessary for the reader to understand the turns and twists the plots was taking, but I just didn’t enjoy them as much as the others.
Still, there is a whole cast of characters within Dearly, Departed that readers are sure to enjoy. Instead of annoying cardboard cut-outs, we have a whole slew of personalities that make for an interesting story. You really do care what happens to each character in this book. There are sure to be some interesting interactions in the coming books that I can’t wait for (particularly more between Mink and her surprise chess partner!)
If you’re on the fence about this one, I highly urge you to give it a go! I can’t wait for the next one in the series, Dearly, Beloved, which comes out next year!
Recommended to: If you want a new and unique series with an intriguing plot, try Dearly, Departed!