Book Reviews · Ramblings

Review of Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

dearly, departed

{Let me begin by noting that this is a Young Adult book so it’s much more about romance and adventure than sexiness.  Most of what I read and review here on this blog will be Adult and much more sexy but I loved this book and the romance was super sweet so…}

I’m in love with a zombie!

          To anyone that is not completely thrown by that statement, let me give you a bit of back-story.  As a child, I loved “Annie” and I watched it over and over again, like the adorable, spunky, charming little darling that I was.  My little sister loved Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.  It terrified me so badly that I would go stand outside in the dark just to escape the sound of the music.  Even as an adult, I’ve been known to literally run out of a building to get away from the song.  If someone attempts to do that effing zombie dance, my eyes will actually well-up with tears of terror.  I’m absolutely not exaggerating any of this.  My name is Scarlet, and I’m zombie-phobic.

          So you can imagine my utter and complete joy at winning free books and face-to-face time with Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed at this year’s Authors After Dark convention.  I sucked it up and showed up with a smile on my face, determined to be polite and make the best of the situation.  We met over ice cream.  I started off, “With respect, why zombies?”  I’m paraphrasing but she basically said that the idea of eternity scared the bejeesus out of her and that she was sick of pretty monsters.  In spite of the fact that I’m addicted to immortal, gorgeous monsters and aspire to finding a way to live forever, I actually wound up liking her a great deal.  She explained some of the premise of her YA futuristic steampunk zombie romance series (oh, my!) and I actually found myself intrigued.

          I started reading it.  It did give me major wiggins a couple of times.  But I couldn’t put it down!  Her world is so thoroughly imagined- the history, society, politics, architecture, music, technology, climate- that you could legitimately see it as a possible future of mankind. 

          But it’s the characters that really got me.  They just seemed to jump off the page, fully formed, as if they were real people.  I cared for them all almost instantly.  Nora, the main heroine, is extraordinarily likable from the start: smart, funny, loyal, passionate, and willing to kick some ass, in spite of the fact that it isn’t ladylike.  It didn’t shock me that I liked her…she’s alive.

          What got me was how much I liked Bram, the zombie hero.  I got that he was honorable from the start and knew that if I was reading about him before he became a walking embalmed corpse (he’s a medically treated, sane zombie so he doesn’t smell and he’s not gross looking; but he’s still dead and it’s obvious in his appearance), I would’ve panted over him and swooned from his sweet thoughts about Nora.  I was shocked, however, when around the mid-way point of the book, I began to kinda fall in love with the guy and wanted to know more and more about him.

          The development of the relationship between Nora and Bram is believable, in spite of the fantastic circumstances.  It’s really beautiful.  They are 2 young people from very different backgrounds (she’s a proper New Victorian and he’s a Punk) that would have never met without the tragedy of the Lazarus plague.  The relationship is built slowly, with Bram showing infinite patience in showing her that he means her no harm.  For her part, Nora bravely begins to see the heart of gold in the still chest of the dead boy.  I think that’s what I found most special about their love story: the lengths they go to try to understand and empathize with each other.  Also, instead of a lot of whining and angsty lamenting about how they don’t have forever (Habel maintains that there is no cure for being undead), they maturely decide to make the most of every moment they are given.  Very romantic!  And a lesson to all of us to cherish those we hold dear…and be thankful that more than likely, one day they won’t try to eat our brains.

          The supporting cast is amazing, as well.  And Miss Habel dosed it with just enough snarkiness to keep it a little light, without spoiling the apocalypse ambiance.  She caught me off guard completely in a scene where a zombie is telling how he became the walking dead.  There’s a twist that had me literally laughing out loud.

          The true sign that perhaps I’d been infected with the zombie-madness that so many seem to have already succumbed to was when I started cheering as a living person was attacked and eaten.  Trust me, he had it coming.

          I won’t go on anymore because I don’t want you to waste anymore time reading my bullsh*t.  Go buy Dearly, Departed already!  It’s amazing!!!

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Scarlet Wylde- Romance & Sex Expert, and newly indoctrinated zombie fan


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