Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 470 pages
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: 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?A few years ago I saw a zombie movie and it gave me the worst nightmares. Ever since then, I have avoided zombie books and movies because they scare me like almost nothing else can. Lately, however, there have been a few books on the YA market involving more sophisticated, romantic zombies. This move towards the lighter, prettier side of zombies is perfect for me. Not to say Dearly, Departed is all romance because it’s not. The brainless, flesh eating zombies are included as well, so it’s a good mix of dark and light.
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 is set in a dystopian future where climate change has caused survivors in North America to move to warmer climates in South America. While keeping their technological advances, these settlers have adopted a Victorian lifestyle in dress, speech and manners. I loved Lia Habel’s world building. The book has a wonderful steampunk feel to it.
Dearly, Departed is told from several perspectives including that of Captain Abraham “Bram” Griswold. Loved him! He is strong, funny, caring and very devoted to Nora. Even though Nora is brave, selfless and smart, her character fell a bit flat. I much preferred to read the portions of the story from either Bram’s perspective or from the perspective of Nora’s best friend, Pamela. Pamela’s quick thinking and butt-kicking was much more entertaining than anything that was going on Nora.
My other issue with the story is the romance. Nora and Bram are really sweet together but I could not get past the fact that he is dead, and while he is handsome, he looks dead. His skin is even gray! I have no idea why I feel this way as I have no issues with the vampire/human relationships in books and vamps are pretty much dead too.
Dearly, Departed has a good amount of humor, cleaver world building and some exciting action scenes. This is a fun and original book. It’s very cool how Ms. Habel put it together and I look forward to the sequel.
Content: Kissing and violence.
My Rating: Just Fine