Series: Gone With the Respiration #1
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
First published: October 18th, 2011
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.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5
While I have to admit that I struggled with it a little bit in the beginning, I ended up really liking Dearly, Departed and its characters. Despite the various points of view, Lia Habel's writing manages to make the main characters relatable and will have readers waiting for the sequel excitedly.
Dearly, Departed is only the second zombie book I've ever read and it has definitely made me want to read more books of this genre. Nora's (New) Victorian world is turned upside down when an army of the walking dead comes for her and another group of more civilised zombies rescues her. I loved this combination of dystopian and paranormal elements that created a very unique setting.
I definitely enjoyed the prologue and the first part of the first chapter of Dearly, Departed but I have to admit that the pacing of the story slowed down a lot after that and made it a bit hard to get into the story. At first we are introduced to the world Nora grew up in, which is both futuristic and historical, and how she is living her life. While such an introduction was necessary considering the very special dystopian setting, I wished it would have been a little bit shorter.
Nora is a very strong character and her realistic reactions to the things she finds out make her very believable. At some points she is a little bit overwhelmed by her discoveries, but at the same time she never overreacts. It was easy to imagine being in her situation and feeling the things she has to go through.
Dearly, Departed is told from five different points of view. While I'm a fan of novels who tell more than one person's story, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the constant change of narration in the beginning. After a while I found out that it was necessary to understand the most important parts of the storyline and I came to appreciate the different characters' stories.
The love story is progressing very slowly, too, but considering the circumstances Nora and Bram met under, it felt very right. In many YA novels the romance is rushed, but the love between these two grows slowly and you can witness how their feelings towards each other develop into something more. I definitely can't wait to find out what the future has in store for them.
All in all, Dearly, Departed is a unique novel with an intriguing setting and the chance to be the introduction to a great series. If you don't mind if a novel has a somewhat slow pacing and want to be swept away into a romance that is heartbreakingly beautiful, you should definitely pick up Dearly, Departed.