Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

10048874Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance, Zombies, Steampunk, Dystopian
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 18th 2011
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

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, 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.

Dearly, Departed is one of the most original, earth-shattering, ground-breaking novels I’ve read all year and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. It wasn’t perfect, but I did fall in love with the main characters, Nora and Bram, the society in which they live, the New Victorian era, and the delightful combination of zombies, dystopia, science-fiction and fantasy. This book is a must read. Even if you read no other books this year, you have to read this one. Before the zombies get you.

Nora, the protagonist of this story, is more interested in warfare, machinary and politics than she is in the things every respectable girl in the New Victorian society should be interested in – manners, etiquette and finding a suitable husband. Before he passed away, Nora’s Dad was one of the most prominent researches in the field of warfare and techonology, and she inherited this passion from him. But ever since he died, she’s been forced to follow her aunt’s ambitions and act more and more like the person she doesn’t want to be. When she has to go home for the summer – to the stately mansion owned by her aunt – being attacked in the middle of the night and being rescued by a horse of zombies almost sounds like the most exciting thing that could happen. Almost.

When she’s captured by the zombies who, instead of simply being marked as evil, turn out to be Nora’s rescuers, Nora finds herself slowly adapting to their world, the world of the undead. When she falls in love with one of her captors, Bram, who also happens to be a zombie. But it didn’t take long for me to look behind Bram’s zombie-ness as well and see what it was Nora fell for. He’s charming, witty, caring, considerate, everything a girl could wish for. I’m glad to see there was no love triangle for a change, and that the love interest, albeit being a zombie, wasn’t a “bad boy” or a troubled individual, but a guy any girl could fall for, in real life as well. I’m a big fan of Bram. He defied all the zombie stereotypes, being so much more than just a flesh-eating, meat-craving walking corpse, but an actual individual with a wide array of emotions and feelings.

Another big bonus for me in this book was the relationship between Nora and her best friend Pam. Now that’s one believable friendship I’d gladly cheer for. If Pam gets her own books, I’d definitely read them. I loved her.

The only thing I found disappointing about this book were the multiple POVs and the lack of explanation. While I think the latter is because we’re going to find more answers in the next few books, there’s no reason for the multiple POVs except to confuse some readers. While I didn’t feel confused, I did think it was hard getting into every character’s head especially because the POV changed so often. But that’s the only “bad” thing I could find about this book, which is saying something.

Dearly, Departed is an intriguing, original mish-mash of genres written by an author who certainly isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. Fantasy with paranormal elements, dystopian, zombies, science-fiction, romance, steampunk and some cyberpunk collided into a wonderful, fascinating story I would recommend to all YA fans. Add this to your TBR list. Right now. You won’t regret it.


  1. I am a fan of strong friendships in a story aside from he usual romantic relationships. I hope this goes on super sale in Amazon coz I really want to add this to my collection

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