Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Book received from Netgalley.
But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 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. In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.
Grade: C+ -
Dearly, Departed could have been a most awesome book. It has a lot of good things going for it: a great cast of characters and an engaging story. The author has a quirky sense of humor and I did chuckle at some parts. The dialogue was entertaining as well. How could you go wrong with steampunk and zombies?
Let’s start with what I liked. I liked Nora and her best friend Pamela. These two girls were quite independent and brave. I loved that they did not just want to improve their station by marriage as was the custom in this book.
Then there’s Bram Griswold, you’ve got to love him. Bram is a born leader, a wonderful character, a loyal soldier, a zombie and Nora’s love interest (eww!!!). I also loved the camaraderie and often morbid sense of humor of Z company, the zombie armed forces. Well done.
The plot was entertaining but I did feel frustrated by the book. Perhaps it was because the author tried to pack a lot of stuff into the story. There were a few things that stopped this book from being rated higher.
The world building was confusing. Steampunk contraptions mixed with digital media, a little confusing. It didn’t make sense to me. I also did not understand why a society whose population had been decimated by major catastrophes, climate change, mass migrations, illnesses and the like would choose Victorian morals and conventions over just plain survival mode. The restrictive Victorian codes of behavior, not to mention the frilly dresses, just didn’t seem to fit.
There were too many points of view. Several reviewers have mentioned this. Even though the chapters were clearly marked, I found myself flipping back to the chapter heading just to remember who was narrating. It made for a choppy read.
There were different kinds of zombies. Yes, there were the flesh and brain eating zombies, but there were also kinder, gentler zombies that were sentient and ate tofu. Yes, tofu. For the protein.
While I was frustrated by the first half of this book, I was pleasantly surprised by the second half. Suddenly, the action picked up and I was glad I stuck with it. The second half of the book was fast paced, exciting, and full of action (and zombies). I began to enjoy this story.
There is a lot of potential in this series. I’m looking forward to reading Dearly, Beloved which is expected to be published sometime in 2012.
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a review copy of this book.
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