Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
ARC, 480 pgs (published in Hardcover)
Published Oct 18th, 2011 by Del Rey
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Amazon Vine

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, steampunk meets 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.

Holy bonkers!  This book is INSANE!  I totally, completely, utterly loved it.  It’s different from anything I’ve ever read.  It was full of awesome characters that were witty, fun and kick ass.  It was a story line from someones dream (not really, but like that).  You know those dreams where you wake up and you think “WHOA!  That was crazy!” cause it’s just a crazy mix of things.  You’d think most of those dreams couldn’t really be pulled off in a novel.  I mean really, dystopia, steampunk, history (well, Victorian age style and mannerisms), technology (not just of the steam kind), zombies (good and bad) and romance mixed together is kind of crazy.  And when I started the book it was almost hard to comprehend.  It took a little bit for me to grow use to it and be able to imagine it all.  But even when it was over my head and difficult for me to comprehend I was loving it.

While reading this book I kept taking breaks to tweet, to post pictures of the gorgeous cover, to rave on facebook and just share my LOVE for this absolutely stunning book.  I actually went to some book signings after reading this book and I kept recommending it to everyone even though it wasn’t out yet.  I just couldn’t stop talking about it!  Seriously, it’s a crazy and wild ride but one of the funnest I’ve had in awhile!

I mentioned that the characters were witty, fun and kick ass.  Well, I have to say that there wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about the characters.  The author did an absolutely fantastic job with character development.  They really jumped off the page in all their awesomeness.  The good guys were so much fun, the scary guys were very scary (and some of the scary guys WERE good guys) and the bad guys, oh yes, they were good and FREAKIE!  Seriously, a bit of freakiness, I mean, scariness.  Or spooky’ness?  I don’t know.  But some things were completely creepy and I think I might have squeaked once or twice when people were surprised by or chased by bad zombies.  Yeah, not a downright horror book, but creepy enough I did NOT read at bed time.  Sorry, bad zombies scare me *whimper*.

The romance, oh the romance.  So zombies aren’t really sexy, are they?  Well, think again.  No, they might not be so sexy in appearance, but if they have their wits about them and their personalities intact, oh yes- they can certainly be sexy!  It’s just in their wittiness, in their bravery, in their kickass’ness that they are this way.  Because trust me, I fell head over heels for one particular zombie and I don’t care how dead and dried up he may be, I’ll cuddle with him any ol’ day….  Anyway, the sexual tension was really great because honestly, a dead guy with a living girl, well- not really the best match, ya know?  So we feel the attraction and all that goodness that builds up to well, a rather warm heat!

Okay, so I could rave all day about the awesome that is this book but there are actually a few things I didn’t love.  One thing is that we get first person from multiple people.  I like seeing the different perspectives, and seeing some sides that we wouldn’t really get to see otherwise was pretty awesome but, and yes, there’s  a but here, I found it confusing at times.  When we would get Brams perspective and then get Nora’s perspective in the next chapter but they were together in both, well, that was a bit confusing.  Yes, it would say the name of who narrating at the beginning of the chapter, but I was involved in the story!  I couldn’t always remember.  A few times I had to stop reading and breathe for a moment and just remind myself of the narrator.  It was a little bit annoying, but it wasn’t really a huge deal at all.  And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t first person.  This might be a book that would have been better in third person.  I don’t know, but it would clear up that confusion that I felt.

Now I thought there was more that had bothered me but now that I’m writing my review I just can’t remember!  I guess they weren’t that big of issues then 😉

I loved this book and I’ll recommend it to everyone just because it’s so crazy and different.  I think we all crave different these days and this fits the bill!  Also the characters were just so fantastic.  Some of the best characters I’ve ever read, that’s for sure!  So make sure you pick this book up!  You’ll be sure to have a wild ride!

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Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book free of charge for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
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  1. Oh my gosh Candace! This book sounds awesome!!! I am sooo ready for diffrent! lol I love books with a victorian feel to them, but I have NEVER in my life read a steampunk book. I can’t wait till this one comes out so I can read it. You sold me on it! :)

  2. Crazy and different! Yes, that sounds awesome!! Thank you for this review – I didn’t had this book in my head although I saw it around already – but seeing you so excited it has to be good!

  3. Wow, talk about a rave review! Now I want to read this one even more. I was a bit apprehensive when I heard it was about zombies because I figured there would be some kind of romantic aspect to it and zombies + romance=yuck, but I trust you. If you say it works, then I’m sure it does. I think I’m going to break my book buying ban when this one comes out.

  4. Wait a minute! Zombies can be sexy? Why am I finding that hard to believe? I guess I’ll have to do more than take your word for it and read this book, eh? LOL

    Glad you had so much fun with this one. You’re review has made me excited to give it a try.

  5. So I’m supposed to be getting this one from Amazon Vine and it hasn’t showed up yet!!! I’m dying here. I can’t wait to read how she makes zombies sexy.

  6. Lol considering you raved about this in your IMM and in your review I know that I must add it to my wishlist. I’m sure Ashley over at The Bookish Brunette is going to kill me for saying this but I have never read a zombie book yet.

    I’m so glad you loved this one and I do find those types of narratives to be annoying. Crossed by Condie reads between Cassia and Ky and sometimes I honestly had to go back and look at the person who was listed under each chapter to remember which view I was reading.

  7. You make me want to go get it from Vine right now!! I’m trying to be good and get through some books though…..I really was kind of iffy about this one. I always have a hard time getting into steampunk books…that’s weird isn’t it? But I do! But I’m going to have to read this one.

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