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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Title: Dearly, Departed

Author: Lia Habel

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication date: October, 2011

Hardcover: 480 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first in a series.

How I got this book: Galley from Del Rey.

Why I chose this book: I <3 Zombies.  ‘Nuff said.


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.


     So, I just finished reading Dearly, Departed.  As in, just a couple seconds ago.  I wanted to write this review right away because I feel that I have a lot to say about it, and don’t want to forget it before I can get it all down.
     First, I want to tell you that I’m going to give this novel 4.5 out of 5 stars.  And now I’m going to tell you why.
    I love zombie stories.  Thinking about it, there aren’t many zombie books out in the YA market, and out of those, few that are truly good.  This book surpassed all my wild imaginings, and brought zombies into a completely new light.  I think it’s good when a book can make you feel compassion even for the “villains” of the novel, or something that is other than human.  Yes, they’re not living and therefore are harder to relate to.  So, if an author can get that empathy across, then they’re good.  What I’m trying to say here is I like that I could feel compassion for the zombies, and understand it when a love starts to blossom between a living person and a dead person.
    The writing in this story really grabbed my attention.  It’s complex yet simple at the same time.  (Have you ever read a story you just couldn’t understand?  Or read a story that sounded like it was meant for a 6 year old?)  This was perfect.  And the author used the fact that the novel was set in the future to include little tidbits of awesomeness, such as a character saying something like: “That is, as our ancestors used to say, epic”.  (That’s from memory, so don’t quote me).  Also, the general idea of the story, a new victorian era…genius!!
    Lately, I’ve also been dying (get it?!) for some genuine romance, because I’ve either read something that had hardly any romance, or it was completely bogus.  The romance in Dearly, Departed is sweet and pure and understandable and perfect.  You understand how the characters could fall for each other.  I also like (and sometimes hate) that the point of view alternates.  It was nice learning about Bram, and being in his head, and learning how sweet he actually is.
    That said, the changing point of view is what kept this book from being 5 out of 5 stars.  Though I understand that the author has the point of view switch to other characters that aren’t necessarily involved in the main plot as a way to inform the reader of what else is going on, I felt like the author went to these characters too often, and sometimes for too long.  It took away from the main story, and occasionally made me put the book down because I was bored.
    Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book.  Though I don’t see how the end to the series can possibly be happy, and though I’m setting myself up for heartbreak, I will definitely be reading the next installments.  Can’t wait for more Bram!
    Also, while I’m talking about endings, I just want to quickly add that the ending to this first installment completely shocked me with its amazing-ness.  Loved it!
    Okay, sorry that was long.  If you’ve stuck it out this long, then you are a trooper.