Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Series: Dearly, book 1
Genre: Steampunk, YA Fiction,
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Source: Review copy from publisher
“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.”
Dearly, Departed is book one in the new Dearly series by Lia Habel.
The blurb is very explanatory, I won’t give you a synopsis but I’ll add some details throughout my review.
Dearly, Departed was a very nice surprise for me, if I’m been honest I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did nor I was expecting it to be as good as it was.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was the world Mrs. Habel created. The year is 2195, a new ice age has happened. Many of the northern countries have disappeared under a heavy coat of ice forcing their habitants to migrate close to the tropics, where now they live in tribes (nations). One of those tribes is the New Victoria. A tribe that decided to follow the behaviors and customs of the Victorian Era, an era they consider was the golden age of humanity. So now we are in the year 2195 with Victorian customs and advances in technology corresponding to the current times. The technology is modern but with a touch of Steampunk, there are microchips, cell phones, tablets, flat screens, holograms and more. What I liked was that many of these contractions work with steam. Also the aethernet is use for communications. All in all a very creative, complex and well developed world.
To add to this new world and lifestyle a new virus called Lazarus virus is spreading with the dire consequences of creating zombies. When the infected die in some cases they wake up with all their faculties intact (good zombie) and in other cases… let’s just say I would not like to encounter one of those. This situation has been kept secret by the government for years. They are trying to find a vaccine and while Scientifics are looking for it, the government has created a small army with good zombies called Company Z. This group specializes in the elimination of the bad, mindless, flesh eaters zombies also known as Greys.
Dearly, Departed is the love story about Nora and Bram. Nora is a normal human girl and Bram is one of the good zombies, he is also the Captain of Company Z. I was a bit skeptical about the story, I couldn’t imagine a normal person falling for a zombie, but Mrs. Habel does an awesome job with Bram’s character. The more you know Bram the less you think about his “handicaps” and soon after you are rooting for him and fervently wishing for a cure, a solution or something to will help him with that little detail of gray skin and falling and rotting parts. Not that anything is falling or rotting at the moment but with time it will start to happen.
Nora is a different girl from the norm of her times, where all the girls are expected to have ladylike behaviors and should never worry with anything discomforting. But since an early age Nora has been curious and has always wanted to learn and know more about their past wars and social and political differences with other tribes.
I liked how Nora reactions were real and didn’t feel forced. She is a smart young girl, she analyses things before acting and when she is wrong about something she accepts it. She is also strong for her age, I’m not talking about physical strength but emotional strength. She freaked out when it was normal to do so but she never disappointed me. She learned to look inside the persons and not to judge them by their appearances, not just with Bram but also with other members of Company Z.
As I said before Bram and Nora relationship should be a NO-NO but the more you see their interaction and the more they spend time together you realized they are good for each other regardless of their differences.
The secondary characters are all nice and they all bring something to the story. The one I could say evolved the most was Pamela, Nora’s best friend since childhood. Pamela starts as a perfect daughter and lady but when circumstances changes and her old self is not enough she changes too and becomes what is needed from her.
Bram’s friends from Company Z were all nice characters that added something to the story, characters you learn to love and as with Bram you wish for a happy ending for them too. They are all characters you would love to learn more about them and hope to see more of them in the future.
Dearly, Departed is told from five different points of view. Yes, you read right, five! But as with character development Mrs. Habel does a great job and differentiates each chapter by speaker so it was very easy to follow up and didn’t get confusing.
The end of Dearly, Departed is not a cliffhanger but is one that will leave you wanting to get your hands on the next installment, Dearly, Beloved as soon as it’s released next year.
In general I really liked and enjoyed Dearly, Departed. I think it was a great surprise and a really good debut novel by Lia Habel. Dearly, Departed is a book I recommend to all YA, distopyan and steampunk fans.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
Other books in the series
Dearly, Beloved (2012)
Other reviews Goodreads