Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Genre: YA Steampunk
Series: Gone with the Respiration (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
ISBN-10: 0345523318 (Random House)
ISBN-13: 978-0345523310 (Random House)
Reviewed by: Kayla
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 the 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.
Quick and Dirty: A girl is kidnapped and involved in a zombie war. It switches between view points of several different characters.
Opening Sentence: I was buried alive.
In a world where everyone is ignorant to a war that’s out their back door, propaganda is fierce and everyone has secrets. In New Victoria, this post-apocalyptic society is trying to recreate the supposedly perfect Victoria Era. But something other than the Punks — the rebels that hate technology, are on the loose and Nora Dearly is thrown right in the middle. Before her aunt can marry her off for money, Nora is rescued/kidnapped by the supposed good guys. As she unravels her dead father’s secrets, she discovers something that could save everyone from the zombie disease.
Lia Habel’s originality in the plot had me wondering what could possibly come next, unlike other overused plot lines of young adult Fiction. Then she lands a twist that had me (almost) skipping to the end of the book. Although the switching between character perspectives for each chapter took away from the main story, it kept me reading, wanting to know how they all connected in the end.
I will always be a fan of historical fiction, but the plots can be pretty boring. Habel’s world of historical England with futuristic technology satisfies anyone’s taste for history and action. Her creation of an engine-powered carriage with something like a TV inside is perfect for this world.
Then there is Nora Dearly, daughter of a dead scientist. Nora’s different from other New Victorian girls. She shared her father’s interest in the war and government. And when she’s thrown into the zombie-filled war, her personality fits right in (after she got used to speaking to the undead of course). Her brave yet wary (who wouldn’t be when you realize zombies are real?) personality is refreshing from other insecure heroines. Plus, she’s smart and sees the hints of zombies before she actually realizes what they’re pointing to.
Of course there is also Nora’s crush, Bram Griswold. There are two types of zombies in this world — the mindless and the not-quite-but-soon-could-be zombies. Bram and his entire army of zombies still have their minds intact and are fighting to destroy those who don’t. Bram is the first zombie she meets and the first one she learns to trust. Bram’s game when she first comes to camp is one of the clever ways Habel explains “the Laz” and the actual war surrounding New Victoria.
I absolutely love the allusion Habel used in naming the zombie disease. “The Laz” raises the dead, just like Lazarus from the Bible. She explains the disease scientifically, instead of brushing it off as “that’s the way it is,” but she doesn’t overwhelm on details. Her ingenious way of keeping you absorbed in the book made this a stellar read. Plus, it ends with a cliffhanger! So as we wait for Dearly, Beloved to come out later this year, be sure to read this book!
Just as I figured out how to shoot video, the lantern died, plunging me into perfect darkness. I swallowed back a sob and spoke aloud, my throat raw, my voice the voice of a ghost in its tomb.
“If this thing is working… my name is Bram Griswold. I’m sixteen. It’s… July fourth, 2193. I live at the Griswold Farm, Long Road, West Gould, Plata Ombre, Punk-controlled Brazil. I work here to help support my mom and sisters… in the Celestino Mine. And these things, these–these people… they were eating… eating Jack…”
That did it. I started crying. I dug my nails into the wounds in my own arms, the places where the monsters had bitten me, seeking desperately to use the pain to pin myself to reality, to coax my mind back from the edge.
It didn’t work.
I said it.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to… to die here. Emily, Addy… I’m sorry.” Tears ran into my mouth, a strange relief after the taste of vomit. “I’m so sorry.”
The Gone With the Respiration Series:
2. Dearly, Beloved (September 25, 2012)
FTC Advisory: Random House/Del Rey Books provided me with a copy of Dearly, Departed. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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