Author: Lia Habel
Publisher: Del Rey (October 18, 2011)
Source: My Choice; Purchased
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.Hold onto your pants people. Your mind is about to be blown. We're talking about a freaking zombie romance, for Tod's sake.
And that's exactly why I picked up this book (the beautiful cover doesn't hurt). I heard "zombie romance" and thought, "Huh?" Curiosity more than anything else made me pick up Dearly, Departed and I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that I did (though, you know, this is a review, so I'll try).
Lia Habel is a genius meets mad scientist meets hopeless romantic. How she was able to conceive the idea for this book and carry it out so elegantly is far beyond my measly brain powers. If I were a zombie, her brain is the first I'd eat because there's obviously some good stuff going on up there.
Okay, enough build-up. Let's get to it.
I loved this book. It combined the best elements of several different types of stories. The Victorian angle gave it a great historical feel. But we're not in the Victorian era. We're in the New Victorian era complete with new technology and enough gadgets to make sci-fi readers smile. Plus, there's zombies, so fantasy and horror fans get their fill of flesh-eating undead creating havoc and mayhem all over the place. But then there are the zombified humans who keep their personalities and brain power. The ones that are kind and concerned and would never want to eat someone. The kind that can produce a good romance, though there won't be a lot going on physically (and, since it's an age of modesty, this is all very fitting).
And you know what makes this book really great? It combines all those elements flawlessly with terrific writing and engaging storytelling. There is so much going on, from all the elements described above to the intricacies of the actual plot (which I'm not even going to begin to try to explain), yet, the book flows. Even with all the little pieces to put into place, I never felt lost. I also could never quite anticipate what was coming next either.
Using several points of view can either make or break a book. Dearly, Departed proves just how effective this technique can be. We're not just in Bram and Nora's head either. We get into a whole slew of characters, which provides for richer storytelling. We can see what's going on with the rest of the world while Bram and Nora are where they are (no spoilers here people).
I think I need to stop gushing now or I'll never be able to stop.
Overall, I didn't know what to expect, but Dearly, Departed knocked my socks off. I can't wait for Dearly, Beloved.
Final thoughts: Buy it. Now.