03 January 2012

YA Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Release Date: 18 October 2011
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Get a copy! Amazon | B&N

Goodreads description:
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. 
My Thoughts...

Dearly, Departed is a prime example of why I don't like to give up on books if I have trouble getting into them at first.  And I did have trouble getting into Dearly, Beloved. I was trying to read it in bits and pieces while reading other books and it just wasn't working.  So, as 2011 drew to a close, I knew that this book needed to be a priority.  I started over, set aside a few hours, and dove in.  Let me tell you--I LOVED this book.  It has a perfect mix of action and adventure with the detail and world-building of a well-written steampunk novel with an incredibly sweet love story thrown in.

Nora Dearly has a fairly normal life, despite being orphaned at age fifteen and having to deal with an over-bearing, social climber of an aunt as her guardian. Thankfully she has her best friend Pam to get her through.  When she's approached by a blind man on the street one evening who attempts to take her and claims to be a friend of her deceased father, well, that is definitely a moment that Nora will never forget as what ensues is a story of kidnapping, adventure, war, love, ...and zombies.

Nora is a really fabulous MC to get to know.  She has a very kick butt attitude and she's not afraid to put herself out there and make things happen.  She's fiercely loyal to her best friend, despite their social difference.  After she's kidnapped, I appreciated her fear and caution--signs of an authentic character who can't easily accept the things going on around her--as well as her boldness and honesty.  I've been a tough sell on good characters lately, but Nora is definitely at the top of my list as an enjoyable, authentic heroine.

Nora wasn't the only character that I loved in this book either.  Bram is absolutely wonderful.  Chas, Tom, and Ren are a fantastic cast of side characters with well-defined personalities and roles. Dr. Dearly himself is sharp as a tack.  Wolfe is the ultimate villan.  Overall, this was a whole cast of characters that I found myself attached to.  I honestly cared about what happened to each and every one of them.

The writing in this book is phenomenal.  You will be pulled into this foreign world and you'll honestly feel at home.  Ms. Habel's writing is beautifully descriptive without being completely overbearing.  She gives the reader a perfect sense of this futuristic "New Victorian" world and its oddities without ever making it feel like an info dump. She had me mesmerized.  Like I said, the beginning may have been a tad slow for me as you're getting to know the world and the characters, but when it takes off, it will take you on quite the wild ride.  Be prepared for action and adventure, zombies, and a romance that swept me off my feet.  I'll be anxiously waiting for book #2, Dearly, Beloved.


Giselle said...

Great review! I also loved all the charaters and Bram is great! Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! :)

Xpresso Reads

Alexandralanc said...

Great review! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. :)


Heidi said...

I have been wanting to read this too! Glad you loved it. I noticed you didn't complain about the 5 POV that everyone else gripes about!

Jessi said...

Lol! Honestly, I expected to be griping about it, but it didn't bother me.  Normally I'm a two max kinda girl, but I liked how the POVs rounded out the story. :)

Alexa said...

I have heard from many people to stick with this book. Everyone seems to struggle with it in the beginning but love it by the end.

Thanks for the great review, I need to check this one out. 

Jessi said...

Definitely stick with it! The beginning is just a little dense, but there is so much that you need to know to set up the story and the characters so in the end it makes sense. :) Enjoy!

Scarlett said...

oooh! So glad you were able to get through it! I have had the same exact difficulty of not being able to fully get into the book. I have heard great things about this book and want to like it, but just haven't had that spark yet. I will for sure give it a try, now that I know of someone who had the same difficulty but that it's worth it! Great review!

Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

This one has been on my list but I've kind of skipped over it for awhile.  You review definitely makes me want to rethink this habit.

Jessi said...

Definitely give it a shot again! I really recommend doing it when (a) you're in the mood for this "type" of read and (b) you're not reading anything else. It really does require (and the demand) all of your attention. :)

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