Friday, April 6, 2012

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Pages: 470
Publisher: Del Ray
My rating: 4.7 stars
Goodreads rating: 3.93 stars
Published: October 18, 2011

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.

Dearly, Departed had me enthralled from page 1.  I'd heard about it a while ago via Goodreads, but was unable to pick up a copy due to being broke.  Then it just kind of slipped into the back of my mind, waiting to come to the surface during a library adventure one balmy day.  I am really, very glad it did!  The characters were so utterly believable, at one point I started looking at my coworkers and thinking some of them were living zombies {too much reading at work?}. 

The story {basically} begins with Nora Dearly being kidnapped as a hoard of undead swarm her house a year and a day after her father's death.  These undead are the bad guys, called the Grays because of their gray uniforms, not to be confused with Company Z {yep, "Z" for zombie}.  Bram is the one in charge of rescuing Nora, who doesn't notice anything wrong with him except that he's blind.  Or so she thought.  He's really a well-kept zombie who's eyes are clouded over {like what happens to any of the undead/reanimated}.  Nora is transported back to Company Z's base, where she slowly begins to trust the zombies.  She definitely doesn't at first, which makes for some rather hilarious/interesting interactions.  Soon she discovers that all the zombies on the base have their heads on straight {minus Sam, who literally can take his off and hang it on the wall while he works}. 

During her time at the base, Nora learns to trust Bram along with his group of zombie friends/soldiers {they're just a small fraction of the zombie populace at the base}.  Ren, the tech of the group, helps Nora get a hold of her friend Pam to tell her she's not dead, only to find out the Grays have taken over New London, with a few people hiding in their houses {the ones who turned, but kept their wits about them} and most everyone else locked in two vaults in the church. 

I really liked Nora!  Her character was so real, I could picture all of this happening.  She was raised in a home that wasn't too strict, but went away to boarding school so she could learn to be a lady {and for other reasons I won't list because that would just be a spoiler}, so it was believable that she would do the things she did, and only cringe at some of them {one being when she accidentally flashed Bram her bloomers}. 

Bram.  Oh, Bram.  If only you weren't a rotting corpse.  And if only the author wouldn't keep reminding us that you were a rotting corpse!  I was a little conflicted with his character.  I loved him, and the author did point out that it was hardly even noticeable that he was dead.  But I knew it.  In his chapters, you can see that he's thinking about not wearing out his muscles, being careful with his skin.  Which are all things any rotting corpse concerned with staying intact would worry about.  There was a slight "ick" factor to that, but other than that I just had to love him. 

Looking at the cover, it seems like this novel would have at least a bit of romance, right? It was tossed into the mix so subtly, you kind of forgot it was there, which was a good thing.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the whole thought of stumbling across a section of her making out with Bram, who is a walking corpse {thankfully there isn't really such a section}.  Granted he apparently doesn't really look like one {other than the eyes} or smell like one {they explain how all the zombies are kept clean/smell-free/etc in the book}, but the thought of them possibly making out?  Gross.  I guess I now see why so many guys think vampires are absolutely disgusting. 

And the villain that you don't know is a villain?  Well played, Lia Habel. I'm just going to leave it at that, because I feel that might already be too much of a giveaway. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this one.  It took me about a week to read, but that's because I do almost all my reading on breaks at work and its a 470 page novel.  Now to wait patiently until the next one comes out {hopefully} this September.


jennifer said...

That's a book that really drew my attention when I saw the cover, but I just couldn't bring myself to read it. The idea of zombies in the future mixed with Victorian culture just turned me off for some reason

Kari said...

I'm not the biggest zombie fan {although I keep finding decent zombie books - hello Carrie Ryan!}, but the author blends everything so incredibly seamlessly, it makes for a brilliant read. I would suggest trying it, unless you're 100% turned off by the zombie bit. It was definitely worth it to me.

April (BooksandWine) said...

That's encouraging to read that the 470 pages are addictive and have you pulling the book out during lunch breaks. I'll admit that the Grays and Company Z seem kind of confusing, but I'm really looking forward to reading Dearly Departed, nonetheless.