Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Publish date: October 18th, 2011 by Random House Publishing Group
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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?Zombies! I love zombies, whether they're the eat-your-brain kind of way or the misunderstood way. (Though I will admit that I like the eat-your-brain type a little better.)
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.
I will also admit that while the prologue was amazing, when I started the first chapter, I didn't think I was going to like this novel. I was just too confused - I had no idea what anyone was talking about, and I had no idea if Mink and Vespertine were the same person. It made my brain hurt. And then the entire beginning of the second chapter was basically just the info-dump. So I really thought I wouldn't like it.
But then it got better. The world that Dearly, Departed is set in is fantastic - and it's something fairly new, too, so I wasn't bored with it at all. The writing, most of the time, was great. It wasn't full of unnecessary details, but at the same time, it didn't leave anything out.
The place I really had a problem with was with the conflicting narrations. Most of the book is narrated by Nora and Bram, the two main characters, but there are a few other characters in there, too. It's simply too many people narrating for me. I really think most authors should just stick with two as a maximum, maybe three if they can pull it off, because it's too easy for characters to blend together. It was fairly easy to distinguish the difference between Nora and Bram's narrations, but when you add in the others, their narrations started to sound the same.
And the ending did not make sense to me. At all. >_>
Despite that, I still really liked the book. It didn't have a totally futuristic feel to it, and I liked that because we weren't overwhelmed by new technologies or other unfathomable things, but you could still tell that it wasn't definitely in this time period. I also loved the relationships in this book - not just the romance between Nora and Bram, but the friendship between Nora and Pamela and some of the negative relationships between some of the characters.
Ah, the romance. FINALLY, NO INSTA-LOVE. Well, there may have been insta-love, but it wasn't all "OMG FIRST-SIGHT I MUST HAVE HIM/HER." The pace of the romance was nice. Very nice, especially considering some of the books I've been reading lately. Sometimes Nora was a bit too innocent/shy for my tastes, but her and Bram have some adorably-awkward moments that I absolutely loved.
Also, this book gets an extra star just because Bram was not an acts-tough-and-has-slept-with-every-girl-but-is-actually-really-sweet character. Bram came pretty close to being an innocent virgin boy, even though he was still completely awesome, and I feel like that's not something you see in YA novels very much anymore.
Overall: While I was not a fan of the beginning and I wish the amount of narrators had been cut down, the plot was fantastic, the characters even more so, and Dearly, Departed was fairly original. 4 1/2 stars.