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{October 15, 2011}   ARC Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

From Goodreads: 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, steampunk meets 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.

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This debut novel is not only unique and interesting, but also extremely riveting.  The cover alone is a piece of art, but Habel’s prose and ability to spin a story outshines the cover tenfold.  The cover, of course, is what caught my attention in the first place, and I just happened to be one of the lucky few to win an ARC of this novel from Goodreads First Reads, for which I am truly thankful, especially and this book is amazing.

The story itself is told using multiple narrators, each chapter a different character giving the reader their first person point of view of the situations.  This allows the reader to know what is going on within in all spectrums of the story while also giving the reader firsthand knowledge of all the characters’ thoughts.  This type of storytelling is my favorite; while third person narratives are decent, they don’t promote the same sense of connection to the characters as a multiple first person narrative does.  Of course, the downside of multiple perspectives is that the reader might not care for all of the characters, causing them to sigh when a new character takes over.  While this is true with me as well, I will say that, though I started out sighing when certain characters took over, they’re story became just as riveting as the other characters, and I soon found myself in love with them all—well, except for the bad guy, but, you know.

Another reason I really like having multiple narrators is because this allows suspense to build.  When done correctly, such as how Habel writes her chapters, the reader is forced to live in suspense throughout the entire novel as most chapters leave the story undone, swiftly moving to another point of view before coming back to the original story at hand.  This, in turn, can create multiple instances of suspense in which the reader is waiting to know what happens to Nora, what Bram was doing, where Victor really ended up, whether Pamela survived the attack… all at the same time.  Hence, I truly love multiple perspectives.

The characterization in this novel is phenomenal.  It’s a lengthy novel, 470 pages and, yes, on occasion I was a little bored and wanted to fast forward (mainly in the beginning), but Habel uses her time wisely, fleshing out the characters (no pun intended) to the point that the reader feels like he/she knows them on a personal level.  Again, a lot of this has to do with the narrative style, but a lot of it also has to do with Habel’s sheer writing ability.  Not all authors can create connections between readers and their characters, but Habel has no trouble making the reader fall in love.

Now, as I stated before, I found portions of the beginning to be a little boring.  Habel has a huge tale to tell, and in order for it to work properly, she has to set up the background.  In the beginning, I wasn’t too into the story as the girls left their all-girls school to travel home for the holidays, but it soon became apparent that this information was imperative in giving the background of New Victoria, the Punks, the underground versus above ground living situations, etc.  And, I have to say, Habel doesn’t leave any stone unturned.  I thought her explanations for how and why things are the way they are in New Victoria was airtight and made perfect sense, which is feat in and of itself.

I also enjoyed the idea that technology has advanced to the point that zombies can be kept alive and in good standing.  Usually all zombie books are about surviving the zombie attacks, and while there are crazy zombies that just want to feed off humans, there are also those who, though dead, are able to keep a sound mind for a few years after being bitten, based on the advanced medicine the army has developed.  Yes, this sounds a little weird, but Habel explains it much better than I can, and it makes perfect sense.  

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and am eagerly awaiting the sequel, Dearly, Beloved!  Habel is definitely an author to watch!  Four stars.

This novel releases on October 18th, just three days from now, so make sure you pick up your copy stat!!

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Melliane says:

I’m so curious to read this one, it sounds so great ! I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Thanks for the review



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