Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Series: Gone With the Respiration #1
Pages: 470
Publisher: Del Rey
Format: Galley
Genre: Steampunk YA
Source: Provided by publisher via NetGalley

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era.  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 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.  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. 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 Review:
Dearly Departed is the perfect introductory steampunk novel for YA readers. It has the manners and decorum of the Victorian era with a twist of zombie plague and apocalypse.  Add a star-crossed romance, and you get fantastic combination of suspense and emotion that will put any reader of the supernatural in a verified tizzy. Despite being in the Steampunk genre...I found almost no steam aspects to it. Sure everyone was wearing Victorian era clothing, but most of them have sworn off new's the "Punks" (and I would have appreciated a less campy name for them...) who use the weird gadgets and technology....since we didn't really get to get the Punks perspective there wasn't a whole lot of normal steampunk aspects to the story...but that's okay..especially as a transitional novel this is a good one because it adds in some new elements without completely overwhelming the new steam-reader.

Pretty much from page one there's constant action and plot that flows throughout the entire novel. The mystery and action are in your face, and build up a great story and background for the characters. I also really loved the way that Lia wrote. It was lyrical and descriptive without distracting from the story. There was a beauty to the words that let the piece flow really well and never failed to create fantastic scenes and imagery. I am definitely a stickler for believability with my "supernatural" story lines. I make an exception for things that are considered magic, but even with those, I like to understand how the forces works. I absolutely loved how believable the zombie virus was. It was different from the normal "zombie-plague" apocalypse plagues and the science involved was really cool and something that could have been right out of a medical book...A+ for a believable alternate-reality!

I absolutely love the way that Lia provided a background for her story. A lot of Dystopian, Futuristic Steampunk, and Science Fiction books have very boring and out of place descriptions of how their world came to be. These descriptions are necessary for you to understand the big picture of the novel and understand where you are in time, but they feel choppy, wordy, and usually very dull. What does that sound like to you? That's right, a history paper! Nora describes her world in a history paper that she has to turn in for class. Throughout the entire wrap up of the demise of the world as we know it today, Nora slides in little sarcastic and biting comments, which gives you all the information you need to start the book, while at the same time keeps you entertained and endears Nora to you.

Speaking of the characters, I was surprised at how soon the characters started to mean something to me. Usually it tends to take me almost halfway through a book before I start to care about them, and if I'm lucky, by the end they will seem like friends. In Dearly, Departed, I felt attached to Bram at pretty much the first chapter that he narrated. Nora did take a little longer, but eventually she measured up as well. As for Bram...I don't know how she did it...but Lia made me fall in love with a rotting corpse...normally most authors seem to stay away from zombie love interests because, let's be honest...for most of us, rotting flesh, missing limbs and leaking fluids does not scream sexy...but somehow...Bram surpasses these obstacles and becomes something other than the undead...he's a caring, fiercely loyal, dedicated, sweet, amazing boy. I liked almost all of the characters, though I wasn't really a fan of any other "living" people except Nora..I got the feeling that we were supposed to identify with Pam...but I found her a bit silly and her brother definitely annoying, though they too grew on me with time.
I give Dearly Departed 4 Keys! It was a fabulous book and definitely got me interested in a nice long series that features Bram and Nora...My guard is instantly up when any YA book synopsis mentions "lurve" especially a tragic one. I swear if I have to read about one more love triangle or god-like perfect boy falling for an average girl I will scream, but this book defies the norm for YA and creates a love story that is on equal footing, if not less important than the action going on in the story. The characters find places in your heart and you end up rooting for them even if you didn't want to in the beginning. If you want something funny, romantic, and slightly steampunky, then Dearly, Departed is the book for you :)


  1. I really want to read this book. I swear, I need to go through your review list and just print it out and take it with me to Barnes & Noble. Lol.

    Great review, Andra.

    1. Lol! Thanks chick! It was really fun...I cannot WAIT for the next book in the series!

  2. I LOVED this book. I get what you mean about not usually having sexy zombies...even in Warm Bodies I didn't think zombies could be love interests...its just so gross! But Bram is so nice! You could almost learn to put up with the decomposition...

  3. I had no idea that this book is actually any good. It's just that I had a feeling it would be dumb but after reading your review I just might pick it up soon.