Review: Dearly, Departed
Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Published: 18 October 2011
Format: Overdrive, Audiobook
Pages/Hours: 470 pages/ 16 hours, 41 minutes
Memorable Quote: “Far more powerful than religion, far more powerful than money, or even land or violence, are symbols. Symbols are stories. Symbols are pictures, or items, or ideas that represent something else. Human beings attach such meaning and importance to symbols that they can inspire hope, stand in for gods, or convince someone that he or she is dying. These symbols are everywhere around you.”
Favorite Character: Nora and Pam
You Might Enjoy: Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion), Zombies Don’t Cry (Rusty Fischer)
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Synopsis: The year is 2195, but despite it being the future, the ancient Victorian lifestyle thrives in this high-tech society. Despite this emphasize on old manners and customs, Nora Dearly is not too concerned with fitting in to what society expects from her. She is fascinated by military history, the current political situation in New Victoria, and spending time with her best friend, Pam. However, with the death of her parents, Nora must live with her aunt – who quickly spends all of their money and plans to marry Nora off quickly. Nora does not think her life could get any worse – until she is kidnapped by zombies.
As it would turn out, the government is hiding a major secret – a disease called “The Laz” that brings the dead back to life, and Nora’s deceased father was once working on a vaccine for it. Not all zombies are flesh-eating monsters, though (those evil zombies are called “Greys”). There are a group of zombie soldiers determined to save the world from the evil ones. Bram Griswold is one such zombie, and he also wants Nora to feel safe, but the clock is ticking and the undead don’t live forever.
Review: *I think it is important to note that this trilogy was never completed. The second book (Dearly, Beloved was published in 2012, but the third book was never published, and at this point -2019-, I have doubts that it will be. Read at your own risk of cliffhangers!**
I read this book (print version) when it first came out in 2011, so this was definitely a fun throwback for me! The audio-book was really great because there were many voice actors, which is helpful when there are multiple (like 5) POVs to a story.
Zombies. I think they wanted to be the next vampire of the YA paranormal scene, but did they ever really take off? Vampires dominated this genre for so long that I think zombies kind of fizzled out before they could really begin – possibly because a zombie is literally a rotting corpse?
Books like Warm Bodies (also a movie) tried to make the “zombie boyfriend” thing happen, but did it really work?
I think most of us don’t see zombies like R (gif above). I’m pretty sure we think of The Walking Dead, Zombieland, or Scooby Doo on Zombie Island (which was a seriously scary Scooby Doo movie).
So, yeah, I think the zombie genre died before it could really take off. While I find romance with the undead to be kind of weird, I did find Dearly, Departed to be enjoyable – in a slightly weird way.
Okay, enough general zombie talk. On to reviewing the actual story and writing style.
This story was the “everything but the kitchen sink” of books. Obviously there were zombies, but this book was also apocalyptic, futuristic and steam-punk with heavy emphasis on Victorian mannerisms. Although I’m no expert on the Victorian Era, it was still really cool how Habel incorporated old fashioned ways of talking and acting within a very high-tech society. Overall, the reasoning behind why the Victorian mindset was resurrected was pretty well-explained. Habel did a great job explaining things without unnecessary info-dumping or information overload. I feel like many steam punk books aren’t very clear or provide too much information without being productive, but Habel’s writing was clear and painted a nice picture of what Nora’s world looked like.
The characters were pretty well written. There were a lot of them, but they each had a clear voice and story. I look forward to getting to know them better in the next book, which I could not find an audio version of, so I’ll be reading it.
Nora was not a damsel in distress. She was smart, quick-thinking, and determined to keep her friends safe. I liked that she questioned everything for the sake of knowledge. She respected rules, but was not afraid to break them or call them out when they were unjust.
Her best friend Pam was another great character who showed a great deal of character development as the story progressed. She began as the character who was mindful of every little thing, but she quickly became a leader who was determined to survive.
For a YA love interest, Bram was pretty solid. He wasn’t overbearing or possessive of Nora. He was concerned for her well-being, and generally just wanted to be a good person for her so that she would not be afraid of zombies. Their relationship had a nice slow burn to it, which was refreshing – especially for an older YA paranormal book.
The biggest issue I found in Dearly, Departed was that there were too many POVs. It wasn’t too horrible as an audio book, but I remember reading the physical book and struggling with just how many points of view there were. It was a cool idea, but just not needed. Combine that with how many genres there were in this book and it was all a bit much. I truly think this book could have been better with just Nora and Bram’s POVs, although I really enjoyed Pam’s.
Overall, Dearly, Departed was interesting, unique, and pretty fun. There were definitely some dark parts, but I thought they were written really well. Don’t be daunted by how long this book is or how many POVs there are. It’s a solid read that’s very enjoyable.