Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Dearly Departed

Title: Dearly Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Series: Gone With the Respiration #1
Publisher: Random House Australia
Published: December 1st 2011
Source: Publishers for review / Christmas present from Dorothy <3

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.

Set in 2195, New Victoria has modelled itself after the Old Victorian era, where social class systems and proper behaviour were fundamental. Combining that with their technological advances, people believe they have the best of both worlds and can prevent the actions that destroyed the previous one. Dearly Departed is filled with entertaining characters you'll quickly come to love, friendly zombies, mean zombies, rebel Punks, unexpected romances, strong warriors and more. It's dipped into a delicious vat of suspenseful mystery and you'll be racing to reach the end! Lia Habel's writing is beautiful and perfectly describes every single moment of this adventure.

After reading the synopsis, my first thought was "Human plus zombie…how does that work?". I never expected to fall so in love with this unconventional couple, but the strangeness quickly disappears and you'll be cheering them on! A lot of it comes down to Bram, the gentlemanly soldier who fell victim to a zombie attack two years ago. His humanity is very much intact and he adores the dark-haired beauty who captured his attention from the moment he laid eyes on her. When Nora is kidnapped, she's terrified of the man who towers over her and has cloudy white eyes, but as she gets to know him through her bedroom door, the ten locks on it slowly unlatch to let him in. Bram and Nora are perfect together, having found one another at the most unexpected time and place. Their trust and playful nature will touch your heart and your fingers will be crossed for a happy ending. Watch as Nora befriends this army of good zombies as they race against time to fight the bad ones!

Dearly Departed has five narrators. Yes, you read that correctly…five. While Nora and Bram are obviously the main ones, the other three provide a special insight into situations that are critical to the plot. First we have Pamela, Nora's best friend who's been desperately searching for her after her disappearance. She struggles under the pressure her family puts on her to marry a well-off man for the better of the family, but readers quickly realise it's just not her. She's a strong, determined character who's skilled in archery and has a big heart, and as the story progresses, we see her become a badass leader we can't help but love and respect! Captain Wolfe, the leader of Bram's army, and Victor, Nora's should-be-dead-but-now-zombie father, are the other two narrators and they drive the action side of the story. Sinister plans are at play and the world is about to go into chaos. Read the book to find out more!

In this unique world with its spine-tingling action, surprising humour, endearing romance and completely loveable characters, Dearly Departed is a very enjoyable read. Everyone will have their own favourite characters, but Nora and Bram will always shine the brightest for me, even though I do love Pamela and all of Bram's playful zombie friends! There's so much about the world, zombie technicalities and layers that I haven't explained in this review, but it's just something complex you must read. The characters are plentiful but you'll come to love them all (minus the evil ones) and be begging to see more! Habel has done wonders with this concept and I can't wait to hear her unique voice again (via multiple narrators) in the sequels. Give this stunning book a go and DON'T GIVE UP! The first few chapters might not reel you in immediately but continue - it's so worth it.

I'm a bit terrified to read the sequel. We're left with a bombshell in this book and… *nibbles nails* It's a tad bit worrying LOL.
Anyway…how gorgeous is this cover? I love it so much more than the US one. Thoughts? :)

Find Lia on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy Dearly Departed from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.

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