Thursday, December 01, 2011

Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 470 pages
October 18, 2011, Del Rey

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.

Source: Del Rey and Lia Habel (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Dearly, Departed’s main character is Nora, a short, striking (in both senses of the word), stubborn girl who takes after her genius father in several ways. But she’s now an orphan and her only family left was her aunt Gene, a pretty woman with issues on money handling, and her best friend, Pamela Roe. Life was hard enough as it was, as Nora mourned her father’s death. But fate decided to make her life even more difficult by subjecting her to a kidnapping by the walking, living undead.

The Lazarus, the zombie-turning disease, is explained scientifically in a more detailed manner than most scifi movies. Instead of the usual zombie versus humans plot, Habel went for something refreshing. Not all the humans affected by the Lazarus virus were the insane, human-eating type. Some of them were still themselves. They had conscience, capability to think and heart. The only difference they had from a human was that their bodies were different.

Bram was one of the zombies who were still in their right minds. He and his team saved Nora from the Grays – nasty zombies. He was unlike any other. He didn’t brood. He didn’t let his being a zombie out him down. He was an optimist and a thinker. He tried to be as human as possible while adapting to his new dead body and urges caused by the Lazarus. He was a dedicated captain, a loyal friend and a sincere lover. His humor, dedication, strength, carefulness, charm and protectiveness made him an unforgettable character.

There were several narrators in Dearly, Departed. Normally, I wouldn’t go for this kind of narration but Habel pulled it off fabulously. Since the story was taking place simultaneously in various settings, the mixture of the narrations worked. I got an overall report of all the things happening. The variation of the voices also added to the awesomeness of the novel.

The plot was jam-packed with humor, drama, action, angst and revelations. It got more and more exciting as the story progressed. What I thought was a simple plot turned out to be a complex one. The way that the romance developed blew me away. It was utterly captivating and realistic. I felt the tension and the hesitation of both Nora and Bram, as well as their acceptance of each other and of their relationship.

Dearly, Departed is an amazing debut to be cherished by paranormal, science fiction and romance readers. With characters to love and to hate, a plot to drive you crazy and a budding romance to look forward to, this novel claimed and deserved the ‘must-be-read-asap-YA-novel’ for late 2011. I highly recommend this!



  1. I have heard such great things about this one so I picked it up at the library today. I am a little scared to try it though because I'm not a huge fan of zombies.
    I'm glad you were in love with the book, thanks for the great review! :)

  2. Great review! I'm about to pick this one up really soon actually and cannot wait to read it! It sounds super good. o: And really different for a zombie book! I'm so curious to see what I'll think!

  3. Bram, oh Bram, I adored him!! So right when you say he's unlike any other and that was such a refreshing change to see in a lead male. Everything you said is spot on, Precious, this book was incredible and I am waiting so impatiently for Dearly, Beloved! Amazing review <3

  4. Ooooh I'm inspired. Great review. I want to read this one soon.