Book Review -- Dearly, Departed

Title:  Dearly, Departed
Author:  Lia Habel
Genre: YA post-apocalyptic steampunk with zombies
Pages:  Hardback 467
Published:  2011
Opening Lines:  "I was buried alive.  When the elevator groaned to a stop in the middle of the rock shaft, I knew I was buried alive."

"Loves 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 as 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."

~Jacket copy


Thoughts:  This book has been on my list to read for awhile.  However, due to various circumstances, I couldn't buy the book.  Once it was sitting in my house begging me to read it, I knew it had to wait for my Zombie Month.  Sadly, it didn't actually make it into the actual event . . . :(  That being said, it was worth the wait!

This book had me from the prologue.  When my husband came home for lunch, I forced him to sit and listen while I read it for him.  It was startling, heart rending, well written, and simply the best start to a book I have read in a long time.  Lia has the ability to fully put the reader into the moment.

Even though I don't know a lot about steampunk, I really liked where she went with the genre.  The basic premise of steampunk is that, in an alternate past, we went with steam power instead of electricity.  And, as part of steampunk, modern society is very similar to Victorian society.  In Lia's book, after the fall of Western civilization and the second Civil War, society desired to return to a perceived Golden Age.  From handed down knowledge and memories, they grasped onto the Victorian era as that Age.  While they had a high-tech society, they modeled the fashion, social classes, morals, and traditions of the Victorians.  However, on the fringes, there is a group known as the Punks who fight against this lifestyle.  I really enjoyed this take on steampunk.  Instead of giving us an alternate history, she gives us a new look into the future.  To me, she did a good job of making the genre her own and, in turn, really added something.

I loved the concept that zombies are not always the mindless, evil dead trying to eat people.  The fact that you can keep your sanity after dying was an interesting idea.  Also, having the good dead eat tofu as a protein source instead of flesh was awesome!  I felt Lia thought a lot about how zombies would survive without the flesh, how they would keep them from rotting away, and so on.

The characters and scenery were very rich!  Even though she did not have any one character take over, I felt she did an amazing job of fleshing them out (pun intended ^_~) and giving them the time they needed to develop.  Chas is one of my favorite characters, and I loved the little things Lia did to show her past.  I think showing Chas's writing at the end of the book was a good way to do this.  Further, I felt having chapters from different POVs was an exceptional way to give the audience a well-rounded view of the story.  Since each chapter was written from a first person POV, the audience was able to see things from various different angles and get a better idea of what was really going on.  I also appreciated that one of the POVs of Wolfe.

At the end of the book, it was interesting to see that our society has not progressed as far as we wold have thought.  The ending finds people devolving into actions very similar to the races riots.  In addition, I found myself wondering if they would mirror the laws of interracial marriages.

This book was amazing!  The writing style was out of this world!  I felt completely drawn into the story.  Honestly, I found myself trying to prolong the experience of the book as long as I could.  I didn't want it to end.  However, when a few of my inter-library loans came in, I realized I couldn't continue dragging my feet.  I can hardly wait for September and the second book.  Lia has really grabbed me with this one.  This book is one of my all time favorite zombie novels!

Rating:
Currently: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
Current Pages:
4887
Current Progress:

14/50 books

Sinn

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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.