TITLE: Dearly, Departed
AUTHOR: Lia Habel
SERIES: Gone with the Respiration #1
Dearly, Departed is perhaps one of Octobers hottest new releases in YA fiction, and I can’t say that the hype hasn’t been for nothing. A fresh new blend of the undead and dystopia, Lia Habel creates an interesting world of science, romance and dashing zombies (!) that will keep you turning the pages.
Nora is a great heroine; meek when faced with certain fears yet containing a hot-headed, anger fuelled bravery that makes her a survivor. I was slightly annoyed when she continued to be stereotypical and horrified of the zombies, even though strong evidence and numerous none-Laz-infected scientists had told her otherwise, but I suppose having had zombies=dead=bad drilled into you all your life through stories really doesn’t help.
The whole story is told using multiple narratives, a different character every chapter – mainly Nora, Bram, Pamela and the last one I won’t tell you because it’s a MAJOR spoiler. This type of storytelling allows you to understand all aspects of the story whilst also being able to get a first hand look at our main characters’ thoughts. I can tell that Lia Habel managed to make this work relatively well, however I myself am not the biggest fan of this technique. It doesn’t allow you to form the same sense of connection as a one person narrative does. I preferred Nora’s narrative above the others, so when it switched there was a moment of ‘not again.’ But, even with my doubt I still liked the characters and it is a good way to build suspense when done correctly.
The romance between Nora and Bram is sweet, and undeniably old fashioned at times. I found what Bram did on Christmas especially heartening, and though in the beginning most wouldn’t feel this way towards the end I really was glad that Habel constructed her romance between these two types of characters. Repulsive to some? Maybe. Sweep you off your feet? Yes.
The plot itself is a great change from some other books where they all have the same ‘winning’ storyline. And, may I say, thank god for those action scenes! Especially the one on the roof, Nora seriously kicks some ass for all those feminists out there :D Though I was slightly sceptical of this ‘New Victoria’ at first, it turned out to be quite interesting – most definitely when you include the punks and the skill the author possesses at word building. It was a bit slow in the first chapter or so, but later you do understand it is crucial to giving some background info and setting the scene.
I found this an exciting and action-packed dystopian horror love story, with a captivating plot and identifiable characters. I would be lying if I said there weren’t some faults, but I think the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Overall Dearly, Departed was an outstanding debut from one talented author, and I can’t wait to read Dearly, Beloved coming out next year!