Dearly, Departed
Lia Habel
480 pages
Del Rey
Release Date:
October 18, 2011
My Rating:

Book Summary

Love conquers all, so they say. 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.

Book Review

I enjoyed this book. I really did. I mean, it had all the ingredients for a book I would truly enjoy: Zombies, action, steampunk. However, as much as I enjoyed it, I felt that it dragged on for a little bit longer than it should have. The writing is superb and the plot is engaging though. Nora is a girl who is alive and has no knowledge of what is going on beyond the walls of the Victorian-esque era city she lives in. All she knows is what she sees on the news which is what the government wants her to know. War is imminent against the Punks, a rebellious group dead-set against the Victorian lifestyle, and death is nearer than Nora realizes.

Even within the dead war is spreading because not all the dead are vicious. Yes, they are all zombies, but there is a group of zombies that has managed to hold on to their faculties and their personality and are able to control themselves around those who are alive. They are led by Nora’s father, Dr. Dearly, who is dead, but not buried as Nora believed him to be. Together they try to keep the Grays in check, the other side of the coin, the zombies that haven’t managed to hold on to themselves and instead hunger for human flesh. Bram Griswold is a soldier at Company Z, the group of zombies that are on the good side.

The dynamic between Nora and Bram is fantastic. These two actually get to know each other before their love story sprouts. Nora is terrified of him at the beginning because he is, you know, dead after all. She doesn’t trust him and Bram has to genuinely earn her trust little by little. The same happens with the rest of the zombies in Company Z. You get to hear about their individual stories, of how they died and reanimated, and who they were before all of that happened. I really liked that about this book, that you really get to know the characters.

Where it fell flat for me was toward the end. I felt that the last scenes with Nora’s best friend, Pam, were kind of long and didn’t make much sense to me. I think overall I just didn’t like Pam as a character. I felt that although she did things that were brave, inside she was a coward. She didn’t believe in herself and it showed, she really just wanted to copy Nora, be just like her, a fact that she attests to at the end of the book. I thought she was pretty boring, but that may be just my personal opinion though. The book is also about a 100 pages longer than most YA books I’ve read lately.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and liked 99% of the characters in it and their stories. I think my favorite character, besides the main characters of course, was Chas. A female zombie, another soldier at Company Z, who I wouldn’t mind being friends with. She was interesting, brave, and was very funny. I gave this book 3 stars because I enjoyed this book, despite my gripe with that one character. The ending is pretty surprising and I do intend to read the next book in the series because I just have to know what happens next.

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