Friday, February 10, 2012


Publisher: Del Rey
Date published: October 18, 2011
ISBN 9780345523310
Young Adult/Romantic Thriller
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

Nora Dearly is living in the year 2195, in a place called the Elysian Fields, in New Victoria, a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. Her father, Victor, a highly-honored military surgeon, has recently passed, leaving her under the dominant thumb of her Aunt Gene, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and is intent on marrying Nora off for money, regardless of how her niece feels about it.

Nora and her best friend, Pamela Roe, both attend St. Cyprian’s School for Girls, one of the most prestigious, private schools in the Territories. Pamela attends through a scholarship, so neither are considered among the elite upper crust of society and have their share of problems with those who are. And Nora, even as a teenager, is more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls anyways.

One evening, when just out of mourning for Nora’s father, Aunt Gene leaves Nora home alone so she can attend a grand ball in an effort to improve their position in society. Nora doesn’t mind, until her world is turned topsy-turvy by an army of walking corpses who try and kidnap her that very night.

As fate would have it, Nora soon finds herself rescued by the good guys. In particular, a brave, handsome, noble soldier...a zombie...named Bram Griswold.

Nora’s fear of the undead is soon overcome as her heart turns in another direction. Despite his decaying body parts, Bram soon forms a bond of trust and affection with her that amazes everyone. And as truths about Victor Dearly and the fatal virus that raises the dead - The Laz - are uncovered, threatening their worlds, only then will Bram and Nora realize their hearts’ desires and choose to accept what fate has in store for them.

DEARLY, DEPARTED by Lia Habel is a phenomenal read. It is the first zombie story I have read, and I absolutely love it. It is incredibly original, thrilling, and dazzling in its scope. Ms. Habel is an amazingly creative author, and the fact that DEARLY, DEPARTED is her debut story makes me all the more impressed with her writing abilities.

Although DEARLY, DEPARTED is geared for a younger audience, I was not put off. This story is so much fun, so wildly unique, I had trouble putting it down. I was sucked right in from the first page and remained captivated until the last. Nothing could be more interesting than a love story between the dead and the living. I was swept into the entire concept with great ease.

I really love the characters of DEARLY, DEPARTED. I especially enjoyed the main characters, Bram and Nora, and find their growing affection toward one another bittersweet. Knowing that Bram is dead and that Nora is not, that their love can never be, well, normal, as we consider normal to be, it just makes for a great story. In fact, as the story moved along, I kept wondering when Bram and Nora were finally going to get together. I couldn’t wait to see how Ms. Habel wrote that part in.

I truly loved getting to know the other zombies in this story. Once you get past their appearance, it is easy to relate to them as human beings. Of course, I mean the good ones and not the hungry ones, intent on making other living beings a meal.

Ms. Habel’s sense of humor often had me laughing out loud, especially through her dialogues. DEARLY, DEPARTED was not at all what I expected. Believing I would be in for a dark, uneventful read, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned into a fun, suspense-filled, adventurous ride through a futuristic world, complete with inventive, high-tech gadgets that mingled wonderfully with an ancient, bygone era. Nothing could be more unique and original.

In the beginning of DEARLY, DEPARTED, I admit I was put off a bit by the fact that each chapter was in the different points of views of different characters, interrupting the flow of the story. Initially, I was confused, but I quickly overcame that as the story progressed, although there were times I had to look back and see just whose head I was in at the moment. Either way, it was a cool way to write this story and took nothing away from it.

Other than the POV sniffle in the beginning of DEARLY, DEPARTED, this story flowed smoothly and kept me hankering for more. I can easily see this being made into a really cool movie at some point, it is that good. Ms. Habel certainly knows her craft and has a wonderful way with words.

I also look forward to the sequel to this story, entitled DEARLY, BELOVED, which continues this fascinating love story between two unlikely, star-crossed lovers. As someone not all that interested in zombies, I am now more anxious to read more about them in the sequel. The descriptions, especially of the zombies, were skillfully weaved into DEARLY, DEPARTED and very tastefully done, I might add. There was none of the outrageously and graphic gore that I had expected.

I would recommend DEARLY, DEPARTED to anyone who may want to read something out-of-the-ordinary and impressive in so many ways.

My hat’s off to you, Ms. Habel. DEARLY, DEPARTED surpassed all of my expectations.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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