18 August 2012

Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration #1) by Lia Habel

Published: 18 October 2011 by Del Rey

Pages: 470 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Steampunk, Zombie

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (Goodreads)

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.

My Thoughts

The first time I saw the cover of Dearly, Departed my immediate thought was 'Ohhhhhh pretty!', then I read the synopsis - zombies, futuristic, steampunk - oh yeah, I was pulled right in and bought a copy straight away.

So did Dearly, Departed live up to my lofty expectations? Partly.

I loved the world-building - Lia Habel has taken an idea and done it full justice - the history, the steampunk elements, the whole idea of New Victoria, the science, the zombies - I couldn't find a single hole in any of it, and the presentation of all of those elements was, quite simply, perfect. Set in the late 22nd century, Dearly, Departed is both familiar and fantastical - ID chips, parasols, zeppelins, scary zombies, smart zombies.

Nora was an excellent main character - strong, smart and snarky, and Bram a perfect foil - their relationship (apart from the slightly icky zombie bit) felt natural and although it took place in a fishbowl setting, was enthralling - I felt a huge connection with both of them, and their scenes together had me completely sucked in. And the supporting zombie characters (Chas, Coalhouse etc.) literally jumped off the page.

Can you sense the BUT coming? Yeah here it is - the multiple POVs. And whilst I understand why they were there, I honestly found myself drifting the moment that the story shifted away from Bram and Nora. Pamela was an essential character, but Wolfe and the scientist just distracted me from a story that I was really enjoying.

Ms. Habel writes in a way that perfectly reflects the story - and the mixture of Victorian and modern language was a fun touch.

Overall I though this was an excellent story and very well presented, but the multiple POVs were just a little too much for me personally.

Notable Quotes
''You might think yours is an extra-special sparkly rainbow unicorn fart kind of suck, but it's not.'' 
''Vampires are just zombies with good PR!'' 
''It will be, as our ancestors used to say, epic.''


  1. I have been wanting to read this one for a while. Great review, Kat. :D

  2. Great review. I really enjoyed this book. I actually enjoyed the multiple pov; however I has an audio-book. That may have made it easier than reading.

  3. I definitely need to read this due to the setting. Zombies and steampunk together is just epic!

  4. The setting has me very intrigued. I feel your pain about multiple POVs. That usually turns me off too. But this book just sounds too awesome to pass up. I am definitely going to have to check this one out.

  5. What a helpful review. I like the cover of this book and it sounds like it has a lot of good things going for it. Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Multiple POV is tricky. When done right, it's just the best ever, but it can fail so easily. Boring characters are boring, and I shouldn't have to pay that much attention to them!

    This was a 4 star read for me too. ;)



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