Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review: Dearly, Departed

Author: Lia Habel
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: Dearly #1
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Pages: 470
Read it in: 2 weeks
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Summary: 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, steampunk meets 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.

LC's Take:

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!

~Cover Talk~

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.

LC's Rating:
An awesome Neo-Victorian, Steampunk adventure with lots of action and zombies and proper young ladies kicking undead butt! While a bit of a lengthy read, Dearly Departed was totally worth it thanks to the awesome characters and amazing world-building.



  1. Wonderful review, Lea! I loved the romance too it was very sweet. The 5 POVs were sometimes all over the place but I didn't find it was so bad. I do enjoy multiple POV books though. Glad you liked this too!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Great review. I ended up giving it a 4..because of the 5 POV's. If it had just been Nora and Bram's ..this would have been over the top..heart stopping good.
    I thought the romance was sweet..but never thought I'd be ok with someone kissing a zombie.
    can't wait for Dearly, Beloved..wahoo!

  3. Nora and Bram sound awesome! And I'm excited that there aren't any love triangles! I really want to read this one! Great review!

  4. Dude.. I'm still reading this book bahaha. OH MAN. Glad you enjoyed it though, this should give me some motivation to keep reading :)

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

  5. Seriously great review! I've seen this book on other blogs & never really read the blurb or anything until now. It was the word Zombies standing alone that did it for me. Now it's on my TBR list. Thank you!

    PS: Your blog is gorgeous. I love how feminine & down the rabbit hole your header is. :)

  6. Thank you for your comment on my review of Darker Still. It seems a lot of people picked up on the over-femininity and the religion, so it's good to know I'm not the only one!

    Wonderful review on Dearly Departed. I've been wanting to read this one as I love YA zombie fiction. And victorian zombies? Yes, you said it already, it makes it a must-read!

    I'll definitely take heed of what you said though, and try not to put it down too many times :).

  7. I was thinking about passing this book up before, but your review has made me reconsider :) I'm usually not much of a zombie story person, but it sounds like it has promise!

  8. I haven't read this one yet, although I intend to, but I agree with your advice. I think sometimes more complex books need to be read in bigger chunks. That doesn't make them better or worse, just different kinds of books require different paths for reading. Great review!

  9. I am so excited for this book! I wasn't going to read it, but the more reviews I read of it, the more I want it. And I totally agree about the cover and the dress. Gorgeous cover, and I want that dress! Like Natalie, I'm not usually much of a zombie person, but the zombies in this book sound awesome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. I am so excited for this book!

  11. Oh this one sounds really good! Great review :)

  12. Oh, I'm so excited now! :) This one is on its way to me so hopefully it gets here soon!

    Even the idea of Victorian Zombies is enough to make me want to read Dearly, Departed. Throw in a lighter romance and strong characters and I am HAPPY.

    Great review! :)

  13. Great review! So excited that I stumbled upon your site. :)

  14. I. NEED. THIS. BOOK. lol. :') I loved your review. Makes me want it even more. I never read a zombie book before so it'll be really a change from the vamps and werewolves I guess. Thanks so much for sharing!


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