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Book Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed
Title: Dearly Departed  
Author: Lia Habel
Series: N/A
Pages: 451
Publisher: Doubleday
Date of Publication: 29th September 2011
Source: Publisher*
As far as romantic pairings go in the year 2195, you don't get much more unlikely than an upper-class schoolgirl and a poor miner from enemy tribes. Filter in the fact that he's a zombie, and you're definitely talking about star-crossed love.

Dearly, Departed is a cyber-Victorian/steampunk romance that takes place in the shadow of a new ice age. Nora Dearly, a mouthy teenage girl and apparent orphan, leaves school for Christmas - only to be dragged into the night by the living dead. Luckily for her, though, the good ones got to her first. From her reanimated rescuers she learns not only that zombies are roaming the countryside, but that her father is one - and that he's in terrible trouble. She also meets Captain Bram Griswold, a noble, strong, and rather sweet undead boy for whom she starts to fall.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Pamela Roe, is just trying to carry on with life as best she can in the wake of Nora's disappearance - when she ends up killing an evil zombie in self-defense. Pam is galvanized into action, and ends up leading a group of survivors as the city of New London is thronged by the ravenous dead.

Upon hearing of Pamela's plight, Nora and Bram set out to rescue her friends, find her missing father, and maybe just save what's left of the world.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely adored this book. I didn't have very high hopes for it at first - I'd read it was steampunk and I've only read one other steampunk book before and I wasn't sure whether or not I liked it, and I didn't know whether it was the steampunk or the writing that I didn't like. Anyway, that's a different story about a different book. Luckily, I absolutely loved this one, and I'd recommend it to you all. Even if you don't like zombies.

This is a zombie book. (woo, go zombies!) Don't be put off though, because the zombies in it are not your typical zombies... (Well, some of them are, but most of them are not). They're kind, sweet, funny and adorable... Most of them are not interested in eating your brains and peeling off your skin... Okay, okay, I'll promise I'll stop now. ;)

It's the year 2195, and Nora Dearly has just got home from boarding school, and is now officially out of her year-long mourning period for her father. She's home alone when a band of the living undead break into her house and kidnap her. It turns out that this group of zombies had kidnapped her to keep her in a safe place from the evil zombies who also had planned to try to kidnap her. (Confused yet? ;) ) Anyway, Nora has to help the nice zombies try to defeat the evil zombies, so they can find a cure or vaccine against the zombie virus, to stop healthy humans from contracting the 'disease'. But, can she do this surrounded by nice zombies who are still zombies and still want to eat her? And to top it all off, she might even be falling for one of them - Bram, the cute, sweet, and very dead zombie who's been looking after her...

I loved Nora. I thought she was a great main character, and loved reading about her story. I liked how even though the book was told from five very different points of view, she still played the biggest and most important part in the book, even when she wasn't physically in the scene. Sometimes with books told by multiple narratives, you just get a number of different stories that seem to have no relevance until they start to weave together near the end which then confuses me, but with Dearly Departed there is absolutely no confusion at all. The narratives were interwoven beautifully, and the story flowed through the book wonderfully.

Nora herself was an awesome character. She was dedicated and caring, and even though she was grossed out by the zombies, she still couldn't help but feel something for the kind man who had been helping her. Despite the difficult situations she found herself in, she always seemed to be worrying about someone else, and about how they were feeling at the time, and just generally whether they were OK. I loved how her relationship with Bram developed, and how it slowly built up, and even though it was only over the course of one week, it didn't feel rushed at all. It felt natural and it was so cute! Definitely no insta-love here, if you don't like that ;)

The plot was action-packed and full of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. Not that I'm good at guessing plots, but even if I was I don't think I would have. I'm not going to say anything else about the plot because I really don't want to spoil you, but just trust me when I say it was awesome. :D
Dearly Departed was a great surprise for me - I wasn't expecting much but after about a quarter of the book I was hooked. It's a mixture of dystopian/post-apocalyptic/paranormal with a smidgen of romance mixed in near the end... It was the perfect blend of action and suspense, and every single page was made of awesome. It comes out on 29th September, and I strongly suggest that you go and buy yourself a copy, because you WILL NOT be disappointed.

*Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. :) 

My Rating:
I give it 5 well-deserved feet!

2011 Debut Author Challenge #24
2011 Paranormal YA Reading Challenge #45
2011 100+ Reading Challenge #81


  1. I agree with everything you said here! Dearly, Departed is just such a great book! And all the narratives really weren't confusing at all. People, BUY THIS BOOK! ;D Great review :)

  2. I just got a review copy of this one this week! So can't wait to read it! Although I guess here in the US it doesn't get published til October 18. But I was still psyched to get it early!! And after your fabulous review I can't wait to read it even more! Great review!!

  3. Great review! I admit that I'm kind of put off about the zombies and always have been; I just find them super gross/creepy from when I've encountered them! I actually find it even weirder to think of someone falling in love with them or them being nice. But you definitely make me curious and I definitely am interested in giving it a try. I'm too curious not to! Again, great review. :)

    Kindle Fever

  4. Awesome review! I'm not a huge fan of the cover of this, but I love the sound of it. May have to check it out.

    The Cait Files


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