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{September 23, 2012}   {ARC Review} Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

From Goodreads: Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.

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Once again, Habel has delivered a unique, enticing zombie novel that captivated me from start to finish.  Told through many character viewpoints, in a future where technology is extremely far advanced, but where the people have reverted back to 17th century mannerisms, Habel unleashes “The Lax,” a strain of virus that has created not only thinking, reasoning, emotional zombies, but also the flesh eating kind as well.

If you enjoy novels by Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, or Fanny Burney, then I believe you’ll really enjoy this novel as the romanticism and “coming out” of a young woman is the same.  The characters are extremely chaste and “court” each other, giving the novel an overall romantic feeling while still containing espionage, murder, mystery, and mayhem—aspects you won’t find in our beloved Austen, Bronte, or Burney.  And, I absolutely love the mix.  Honestly, I’ve always been interested in the high society life of the past, but find many of the classic novels to be a little dry.  I want a mystery along with my romance, and that’s exactly what Habel delivers in this sequel to Dearly, Departed. 

Some may find the many points of view daunting, but I think Habel handles this well through her titling of chapters.  When the viewpoints change, a new chapter emerges, and I always feel like Habel is giving the reader tiny cliffhangers at the end of each chapter as the story shifts to another character and generally leaves the story the reader was just following in order to learn about another.  I honestly do love this type of storytelling—I become so enamored in one aspect of the characters’ lives and then am whisked away to something different, filling all the gaps within the story slowly as Habel begins to pull them all together for a wonderful finale.  It just amazes me and keeps my apt attention from start to finish.

This novel is, of course, very long, which is my only complaint as I found some of the story to be more so filler than pertinent to the story (though not very much), but overall, the story is perfection within itself, and I really enjoyed it.  If you want to read a truly unique zombie novel, then this series is it.  Four stars.

Random House Publishing and Del Ray have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 25, 2012.

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Beatriz says:

I’m in love with the jane austen, emily and charlotte bronte, books, and this sounds amazing with all the accion and mistery added



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