Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed

Source: Netgalley – I received this in exchange for an honest review
Publisher: Del Rey
Series: Gone with the Respiration #1 
 Hardcover, 470 Pages
 Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: 4.5/5

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.
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

This is one of those books where you look at the summary on the back and immediately question the possibility of it being a good book, you feel curious but it’s apprehensive. At first it’s not so bad. Victorian Steampunk, those two things mesh extremely well. Now throw in the zombies and feel the apprehension rise. And if you aren’t already edgy on this, put in a dash of romance. Now…how do you feel? I took this as a challenge from Ms. Habel. I personally love to hate zombies, I see them as a threat to my well being, Ms.Habel upped the game by telling me I could love them. My response was to laugh, but now that I have finish the book I respectfully bow to Ms. Habel. A job well done.

The writing is from first person p.o.v. and there are alternating perspectives through out. I normally don’t really find this type of story telling attractive because it can easily become confusing or bog you down. I would say the Habel managed to make it pretty easy to keep up with, each perspective change is also a different chapter. I enjoyed seeing how things were progressing from each persons angle. Nora is a great main character, I wouldn’t say her reactions are entirely normal for the whole book but given the circumstances that can surely be excused. Bram is also delightful and though my instinct was to immediately hate him and wish him dead, I came to adore him. I did get a little tired of their angst but it’s completely understandable and not that frequent. I do feel that it needs to be said that the romance is not the forefront in this book. It is a major part of Nora and Bram’s roles but it does not demand all of your attention and the plot is never hidden underneath it. The other characters were equally enjoyable minus a few like Wolfe and Averne. I wasn’t entirely fond of Pamela and didn’t enjoy her point of views as much as I did the others, but she grew on me as the story progressed.

Speaking of the plot I find it be pretty original and the genre mash-up that you are presented with isn’t one that you normally see. I loved the world building, and thought that the history for this setting was very unique. The zombies were also something I found to be handled expertly. I loved the difference between the zombies like Bram and those who will chew on your leg, the fact that it was explained scientifically also won points with me. Though I will admit that intelligent zombies really does send up a huge red flag to me, just makes me cringe thinking about it. Anyway, the major conflict I also found to be fairly interesting and in truth I was more interested in what was going on there then what was going on between Bram and Nora. Don’t get me wrong, I found their relationship to be very sweet and I enjoyed them both but I love the extent of the human/zombie conflict.

Overall I can’t wait for the second book and I will be buying it as soon as it hits shelves. Also as a side note I love this cover,  and I want that parasol. I will say that my rating for this is more like a 4.5 then an actual 4, there were some minor details.

4.5 Stars

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