Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed
(Dearly #1)
By: Lia Habel
Publisher: Random House
Published: Oct. 18, 2011
Genre: YA

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

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.


I wasn’t overly sure if I was going to like this book or not. I definitely wasn’t planning on falling in love with it. I have been sort of feeling like YA is going down a very boring and sugar coated slope. On top of that Zombies make me VERY squeamish, but it’s coming up to Halloween and it seems like Zombies are the new big thing, so I decided to give this book a shot. Even though parts of it were a little creepy with the rabid zombies, I felt that the author wrote a very good YA book that sort of touched base with the whole “cannibalism” without actually going into detail of them eating Brains. Which is okay with me since, like I said before, Zombie freak me out. A vampire, ghost, even a mummy, NO PROBLEM but the second those reanimated decomposing corpses start hauling butt towards me with hunger in their eyes, I am out of there!

Which brings me to the romance of the book. A human and a zombie…? It helped that Bram wasn’t falling apart and had all of his original body parts still intact but it took a little bit to convince me. They didn’t automatically fall in love, in fact Nora was freaked out by Bram being a zombie when he saved her and fainted, when she awoke she was in his room at the Z base and quickly locked herself inside. By talking through the locked door to Bram and making a deal that every time he answered one of her questions, she would unlock one of the 10 locks on his door, she slowly started to trust him. Eventually she came out of the room but by that time, I wasn’t so weirded out by the civilized zombies because by that point Bram had humanized himself in my mind.

The book is split primarily into Nora, Bram, Pam and Victor’s point of view. It helps to give you a sense as to what is happening out in the world where the rabid zombies are terrorizing the streets and slowly taking over. Even though things are sort of calm at the Z base, back in Nora’s neighborhood all hell is breaking loose and she has no idea that it’s happening. Pam’s story is by far the scariest parts of the book because she is dealing with the rabid zombies and trying to convince her family that it isn’t safe. I will be honest that while reading the book she reminded me a lot of Katniss from the Hunger Games. It wasn’t just her use of weapon (a bow) but just the way she carried herself and stepped up and took control of protecting her family.

One last thing that I want to touch base on before I leave you with an ending quote… this book is pretty funny. The civilized zombies are like normal people and the ones in Bram’s close unit all joke around and act as if they are best friends or even siblings. They squabble and joke around a lot throughout the book. So it isn’t all serious zombie business taking place in the book.

Typically I go with a funny or even a sweet quote but because this is a zombie book and it’s coming up to Halloween, I decided to throw in a suspenseful quote. This is when Pam and her family are running the streets with all of the neighborhood trying to flee the rabid zombies.

“The streets were a mess. Everyone was fleeing in the direction we were going, and we had to struggle to keep up. This, combined with the fear that someone, anyone, in the crowd might be running after you, not with you, made for an exhilarating and terrifying experience. We did our best to cling onto one another, our hands sweaty and cold. Several times I had to let go of Dad, of Izzy, and then spend a frantic few moments searching for them, begging God above that I would find them. Luckily I did.” -Pam


3 Thoughts on “Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

  1. I’ve been pondering whether to read this book or not, myself, precisely because of the zombies… So, I’m going to ask you…

    Does it still feel like you’re reading zombies, even after they are intelligent and keep their manners and don’t want to eat you? I know you said the main character was humanized, but I don’t mind about that because it seems it was done through character development – and anyway, that’s what needs to happen in paranormal for the relationship to work!

    No, I’m more worried about them becoming just normal characters who get to be called zombies because it’s the paranormal hype, and it looked cool on page.

    What do you think? Would you recommend it, or will I (and my must-make-sense mania) get frustrated along the reading?

    Thanks for the great review!

    Ron @ Stories of my life

  2. I’m excited to read this one. I have a review copy and can’t wait to dive in. Great review!

  3. My copy of this just arrived today. Glad you loved it!

Jump in on the discussion: click on the notify button below to follow along

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation