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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

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.

A zombie spin on a New World Victorian age? Yes, please! As you all know zombies are my not-so-secret pleasure, so I will jump at the chance to read anything having to do with the Walking Dead. This book, however, was a little outside the normal realm of my zombie-loving self. In Dearly, Departed, the zombies aren't mindless cannibals (or at least all of them aren't) and they all aren't bad. Instead, there are good zombies working as secret soldiers for the government and bad zombies who are fast moving monsters out for blood. It was a little hard to wrap my head around the good zombies, who are essentially just the same as the living good guys, except for the part that they're in fact dead. It was different, but cool, and I liked that Habel stepped out of the box with her zombies.

What made this story so endearing for me was the good zombies. They were essentially treated like expendable military weapons, but accepted their fate and untiringly grueled through their despicable treatment in order to do good and rescue the main character Nora. I loved how pure and goodhearted they were, especially Bram, who sounds like the most delicious zombie ever. He was that gentleman with an edge- just enough sweetness with that alluring dash of spice. His inner struggles with falling for Nora were amazing and the tension between the two was so palpable throughout the story. I love when you get that feeling from a book, where the relationship feels so real and you're screaming at the characters to just admit how they feel for each other. It's how I know that I'm really invested in the story.

My only real issue with this book was the lack of zombie pandemonium. There were some great zombie infestations into the city of living that caused utter chaos, which I absolutely loved. There was action and zombie fight scenes and death, which was all great and just my cup of tea, but being such a die-hard zombie fan I was looking for a little more. It was like the book was just at the edge of zombie greatness, but just didn't have that last exta 'umph' to push it over. For example, Nora's friends are trying to escape the zombie hoards in the city and find temporary refuge in a museum before Nora and the good zombies come to rescue them. Instead of having some major rescue/flight sequence, the scene just felt kind of skimmed over. I woould have just liked a little more zombielishess detail showcasing the panic and confusion and fear.

Despite that one minor detail, I absolutely loved Dearly, Departed. How much better can a book get, with zombies, action, romance? It's literally all there. This book was both plot driven and character driven, with a story that will such you in and characters that will infect you. The originality and creativity of this story were stellar with just enough gasp-worthy moments to keep you hanging on. I definitely deem this book a page-turner that is so hard to put down because the story is just that compelling. If you're like me, and a zombie lover, then you'll be sure to fall in love with this book as well.


  1. I also wished the whole zombie taking over the city was more exciting. But I really enjoyed the good zombie part of the story. Bram is such a sweety!! :) Awesome review Kristan!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. I wasn't quite sure about this one when I first read the blurb...but your review really makes me want to read it!

  3. Great review! I loved this book (and the good zombies). I can't wait for the next one!

  4. Thank you so much for this review. I wasn't sure at all about this book when it first started appearing, and over time some great reviews have changed my mind, to the point that this is out of my Wishlist and into my Musthaves. And each review adds something new that makes me want to get to Dearly, Departed.

    In this case? The way you talk about the good zombies. How they are fodder, and still they care and struggle - and yes, they get to fall in love too.

    Thank you so much!

    Ron @ Stories of my life