Book: DEARLY, DEPARTED
Author: LIA HABEL
Genre: PARANORMAL/STEAMPUNK YA
Published: October 2011, BALLANTINE BOOKS DEL REY (RANDOM HOUSE)
Series: Dearly series #1
Source: Publisher via Authors After Dark Reader Convention
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.
DEARLY, DEPARTED was the perfect book for me. I say this now because, while I will rave about a book in a review, I do try to stay a little professional. That might go out the window as I write about DEARLY, DEPARTED. So, what had me so excited? Paranormal YA with steampunk elements? A future-world, post-apocalyptic, vaguely dystopian setting? A rebellious, but not silly female main character? An intelligent zombie army? Yes. All that and more.
This story grabbed me from the first chapter and never let go as I followed Nora through her New Victoria. The world-building and her characterization is amazing. Even though some of the chapters alternate from other characters points-of-view, Nora is the star, and she shines. I even appreciated the info dump that explains how New Victoria came to be. Why? Because it didn't take me out of the story, and it flowed organically.
If you like your zombies to be only of the shambling, brain-eating, empty-eyed variety, then DEARLY, DEPARTED is not your book. Sure, there are the zombies that have succumbed to the affects of the Laz. But there are also smart, brave, "normal" zombies that have formed an army to help save the remainder of humanity. I don't subscribe to the idea that zombies only belong to horror. I don't need zombies to be cast as the villain for me to call them "real".
I loved the adventure and thrills in this novel. I loved New Victoria and the steampunk elements in this novel. I really liked Nora and Pamela. In my opinion, Lia Habel has written one of the most innovative and enjoyable YA novels of 2011. The End.
4.5/5 for plot
5/5 for characters
4/5 for language
My Rating: 14/15 (5 stars)
Must Read, if you liked:
Die For Me by Amy Plum
Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
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