by Lia Habel
Published October 18, 2011 by Ballantine
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.
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Getting kidnapped is just the beginning of Nora's strange new world. She now finds herself surrounded by zombies, both the good and the bad. That's when she meets Bram Griswold: a young Captain who is dashing, honest, brave and infected with "The Laz". Being dead is not all bad and Bram has modern science working on his side to help him retain his essential being. Something seems to be developing between Bram and Nora, something that will not be denied no matter that Bram is living on borrowed time.
This story has so many great elements. Futuristic! Steampunk! Zombies! Confession time: I went into the story with a bit of wariness. You see, I usually cannot stomach zombie stories. There is something about cannibalism that has creeped me out since I was a kid. So I was both surprised and pleased to make it through the entire book, in ONE sitting! And I loved it. There's drama and mystery aplenty and twists you do not see coming. There are times of humor where you find yourself laughing out loud, and times of bittersweet happiness during the scenes with Bram and Nora. You come to care about every single supporting character, no mean feat. The setting is fascinating, taking place in a future that is modeled after a past era. The mix of technology and old fashioned ideals blended together perfectly.
I admired Nora's strength, particularly her actions when faced with the unbelievable. And Bram! His character was so full of goodness, and bravery. In the end, I found myself rooting for Bram and Nora's strange, unconventional relationship.
What have I learned from Dearly, Departed? That zombies need love too.
I've read that Ms. Habel is working on the second book titled Dearly, Beloved and all I can say is write faster!! I cannot wait to read more about Nora and Bram's adventures.