Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dearly Departed ~ Lia Habel

Title: Dearly, Departed
Series: Gone with the Respiration
Author: Lia Habel
Pub Date: September 2011
Publisher: Del Rey
Author Website:

From Good Reads:
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, 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.

Dearly, Departed starts off with a young man, Bram, running from a mob of the dead. He ends up trapped with a friend who is bleeding to death. Hm...Doesn't bode well.Skip to Nora Dearly. She is just ending her mourning period for her late father. And now she is an orphan living with her greedy, money mis-management, social climbing aunt. 

At this point, it be explained that Dearly, Departed is a mix of dystopia, steampunk, and Victoriana. I don't want to go into too much detail because Nora does a beautiful job explaining how this arrangement came to be in the year of 2190something or another. She explains via a school assignment. This turned out to be a great way to introduce readers to a new world. It does two things. First-It doesn't assume you know what happened, and second, it doesn't feed the knowledge to you in a boring way. (Can you think of books that do this? I sure can...)

So, in the New Victorian world, there is advanced technology, but there is also what made the Victorian era what it was: the social customs, class breakdowns, clothing, manners, etc.  Dearly, Departed was truly something new and different. 

Onto zombies. There are two types. The first, the Grays, are your classic zombies. They are NOT GOOD. Then there are the others. With the help of medication and a strong sense of self preservation, they talk, function, and do just about anything they used to do while living. They are just ... dead. Nora learns all of this when there is an attempted kidnapping by the bad zombies. But then she is rescued/kidnapped by the good ones! 

And there she meets Bram. And begins to trust him and not be so scared of him. He is like her own personal bodyguard-she hides behind him. It is so cute. Through the course of the story, they begin to have feelings for each other. 

So what did I think? I enjoyed the hell out of this book! I loved the fusing of dystopia, steampunk, zombies and Victoriana. It felt fresh. My biggest issue was my squick factor. Falling in love with a zombie? Um...yeah, I just don't know about that. But I guess it's no different than falling in love with a vampire! My other issue was the points of view. There were waaaay too many. All we really needed was two, three at most. It got a bit distracting, and took me out of the story. 

The characters were quite fun. Nora's friend Pamela was hella fun! In my opinion, she deserves her own zombie hunting story! There was a scene with a parasol...but you'll have to read to know what happened! The other good zombies were entertaining as well, especially Renfield and Chas. Zombie with manners, and a sassy girl zombie who likes parties!

All in all, Dearly, Departed was greatly enjoyed. I'm curious about the sequel and where it will go next.

And for something different-the author. She is an absolute doll. And lives the Victorian life. I love when authors write something that they embody. Let's take a look shall we?
Photo credits:
WinterWolf Studios

Want to learn some Semi-Interesting Facts about Lia? (Taken from author's press kit page)

(Semi-)Interesting facts!
1.     I wear wigs. I lost quite a bit of my natural hair back in 2009, due to a combination of stress and mysterious medical factors. I’m a very all-or-nothing personality, so when it got to the point where I was going to have to rock a comb-over, I said, “Screw it. I’m going to buy a wig in EVERY COLOR.” And I did. I own scores now, in all shades and styles, but I don the brunette ones for professional gigs. I call it “Lia brown.”
Photo credits:
WinterWolf Studios
2.     Nora, Bram, and most of the (only vaguely outlined) plot for Dearly, Departed were dreamed up on an eight hour bus ride to New York City for a neo-Victorian event. Despite this promising beginning, I did little planning before beginning to write. Most characters were nothing more than a first name and a random hair color before they first hit the page. Their personalities and backgrounds came to me on the fly.
3.     I wrote the first draft of Dearly, Departed in a little over a month. During my most prolific week, I was writing upwards of 10,000 words a day. I have no idea where it all came from. (It took me three months to write the first draft of the upcoming sequel, Dearly, Beloved.)
4.     Most hilarious edit made to date: My first editor was fine with the zombie who carts around his own useless eye, the headless zombie, the jokes about human boxed lunches, the guy with his throat ripped out, and even the zombie/living kiss – but, “Can Bram not be green? Can you make him really pale instead?” I happily obliged.
5.     I’ve watched over 100 zombie movies, read tons of zombie books and comics, run through the Monroeville Mall, cuddled zombie toys, perched on a tombstone in the cemetery where the original Night of the Living Dead was filmed, and even held a real human brain in my hands – but I have never worn zombie makeup.

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