Author: Lia Habel
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Love can never die.
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.
Zombies? Check. Dystopian? Check. Victoriana? Check. All around awesomeness? Double check! Habel developed an amazing story. Dearly, Departed was so different from other zombie books that I’ve read, and I’ve read quite a few. The year is 2195, and the world has experienced drastic changes due to icy harsh winters, catastrophic storms, a second America civil war, and a supervalcano eruption under Yellowstone. New Victoria was developed close to the equator after survivors migrated south. The population flourished, society became stable, and technology became abundant. But then the “Punks” were not happy with the strict social order and advanced use of technology, they felt that all the mistakes from the past were happening again. I loved the whole future “history lesson” in this book, it was so interesting!
Nora was a great character. She’s a young woman living in a society based on the Victorian era, so that means women were frail, docile creatures, who do what they’re told. But while growing up, Nora’s dad encouraged her to watch “unladylike” news programs to keep up on current events. She’s ladylike, but at the same time she had a backbone and is willing to question what’s really going on around her. And she could shoot a gun! Then there is Bram *swoon.* He’s the sweetest, hunkiest zombie ever! You’d think that would be gross. Well, it kind of is. But once you get to know him, it’s hard to see him as a walking corpse. I think the way Habel had Nora get to know Bram and to trust him, was done very well. Obviously it wasn’t instant swooning when she met him, it was more like instant screaming, and then their relationship evolved.
There are a lot of other great characters in Dearly, Departed. I really liked Bram’s little group of friends, especially Chas — she is totally my girl! She’s tough and a complete smartass. Her and Tom’s relationship is hilarious and so cute. I also grew to really like Nora’s bff, Pamela. I wasn’t sure how she was going to turn out since she was so reliant on Nora, but she impressed me. Pam’s description about how she and Nora met had me laughing:
“..when our mothers initially introduced us, I had chosen to greet her by yanking a fistful of her hair to see if it was real. Her response was to deck me in the nose. It had been love at first fight.”
It was nice that Pam and Nora were so close and loyal to each other. It seems like in a lot of YA books, the best friend kind of gets pushed to the background and forgotten about, but that wasn’t the case with Pam.
Habel had an interesting take on the zombies. Yes, they are flesh eating, decaying corpses, but with help, some of them can control those things. I also liked the issues of discrimination against the zombies Habel used in the book.
There was only one thing about the book that I wish had been different. I love when multiple point-of-views are used, but when they are all first person, it gets really confusing sometimes. It gets even more confusing when it’s alternating the first person POV during the same scene. So many times I had to stop and check whose POV I was reading, just when I get used it being Bram, it would switch to Nora. Otherwise, I loved everything about this book.
If you love zombies, read this. If you’re not into zombies, read this. I can’t wait for the next book, Dearly, Beloved.
Love will never die