Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: Dearly #1
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Read it in: 2 weeks
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Want to know why this book was awesome? Two words: Victorian zombies. Oh yes, you heard me right.
I think that we can all agree that that alone makes this book a must-read, but there's plenty more to love about Dearly, Departed-- starting with the amazing, multi-dimensional characters. Nora Dearly is the heroine of the story, a proper New-Victorian girl living in the year 2194. The perfect mix of spirited stubbornness and genuine loyalty to her friends, Nora's character was definitely able to stand on its own without leaning on the love-interest. (Although Bram was also amazing, and we'll get to him in just a minute!) I loved that Nora wasn't afraid to speak her mind or fight for those she cares about-- and she had a sense of humor too, which made it a lot of fun to read from her perspective!
Bram was Nora's zombie love interest, and seriously the cutest thing ever. For being a dead guy, he totally beats a lot of other living guys I've read about lately in YA, no joke. His sweet, innocent attachment to Nora and his thoughts about how he can impress her were so freaking adorable, and I also loved his loyalty and bravery as he fights to save his friends, who are dead but still human. And speaking of, Bram's friends and the rest of the Z-Camp zombie crew were all fun, quirky, and a little creepy-- definitely a great mix of characters to read about!
I've heard some other people say this too, but I'm going to repeat it because it was a refreshing change of pace: the romance was not overdone. I feel like in a lot of YA books, the romance overwhelms the rest of the story and even the characters get lost because the only thing you know about them is that they are so head-over-heels in love. But Dearly, Departed had much more of a story behind it-- with politics, war, rebellions, social upheaval-- all of which created plot conflict without depending solely on an unbelievable or angsty teen love story. Oh! And also-- there are NO love triangles!! Woohoo, that alone earns this book big ratings in my book!
The world building was fascinatingly dark and beautiful, if a bit overwhelming at times. Lia Habel created a completely new type of setting that was both futuristic and old-fashioned at the same time. I loved reading about New Victoria and the camp where the undead lived, and all the politics surrounding the New Victorians and the Punks really made things seem complete. I felt like there was so much detail that I could really picture the world that the story took place in.
The only major problem that I had with this book was that the narrative was somewhat choppy, due to the fact that it's told through 5 different perspectives: Nora, Bram, Nora's friend Pamela, Nora's father Victor, and evil Captain Wolfe. I liked reading from Nora, Pamela and Bram's perspectives, but I didn't care enough about Victor and Wolfe to even remember what was going on with them, so that made following the entire story kind of tricky. My recommendation, if you do decide to read this book, is to not read it on and off like I did-- there's just too much to keep track of, and if you stop and try picking it up again a bunch of times, you might have to backtrack a lot to figure out where you were. I found that when I was able to sit down for longer periods of time, I was able to get much more out of the story.
Dearly, Departed was a really fun and unique book that crossed over into several different genres. The story itself was dark and creepy, but had light-hearted humor and a cute love story to balance what would otherwise had been a bit of a grim and depressing read. The action and adventure added to the memorable characters and intricate world building. Even though this book took me forever to read, I thought it was worth it, and I know that many YA readers out there are going to really love this one!
This is such a gorgeous cover! I love the monochrome colors, and the graveyard in the background gives the whole book a creepy, eerie feel. Also, how much do you love the outfit Nora's character is wearing?? **I want!** Finally, I think the font type for the title fits in perfectly with the Victorian theme. Altogether, this cover definitely captures the dark, Gothic mood of the book.