Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Book 1

Tags: YA, paranormal, steampunk, zombies


Several centuries into the future, Nora Dearly, daughter of a renowned and recently deceased doctor, lives in New Victoria. Her physically comfortable but emotionally stifling life is shattered when she is kidnapped by what appears to be an army of good zombies…and finds out about a virus that infects humans and turns them into either good or bad zombies.

As Nora learns more about “the Laz,” the government’s cover-up, and the truth behind her father’s death, she spends time with Bram, an intelligent and kind-hearted zombie. Bram may technically be dead, but he still cares about others—especially, as they get to know one another better, Nora.

Can Nora and Bram’s feelings for one another find a place in the midst of the looming catastrophe?


Oooh. DEARLY, DEPARTED was fun, fun, fun. If one overlooks some inconsistencies in worldbuilding, supporting character development, and plot, then Lia Habel’s paranormal/steampunk debut is a charming read that’s sweet and funny.

I’m at the point now with my YA reading where any mention of a romance in the synopsis puts me on guard. Because, come on now, how many more insta-romances, too-good-to-be-true boys, or dickwad love interests do we really need? This, however, is why Nora and Bram stood out to me so much. The multi-POV narration (admittedly unnecessary at times) really added to this couple’s attractiveness, both to one another and to us readers. Bram is a total sweetheart who is nevertheless also a guy, not some ideal creation of a love interest.

The premise is moderately well-developed and the pacing uneven at points—quite action-packed in the beginning, followed by uneven spurts of information and a climax that felt the tiniest bit rushed. But it’s the characters that make DEARLY, DEPARTED stand out from the pack of paranormals or steampunks being released. These characters are a RIOT! They deliver the most wonderful zingers in their dialogue that made me literally guffaw. DEARLY, DEPARTED may be set in a futuristic/anachronistic world that may require a bit of suspension of disbelief, but these characters could be kids in any high school today. Lia Habel fills her characters with heart instead of ideals, with the result that readers will have a good time hanging out with Nora, Bram, & Co.

If you’re looking for a funny and romantic speculative fiction read this fall, consider checking out Lia Habel’s debut novel, DEARLY, DEPARTED and be prepared to be thoroughly entertained!

Similar Authors
Cynthia Hand
Scott Westerfeld

Cover discussion: It's a lovely image, one that I would love to have as a print. However, after reading the book, I'm not sure if I think this picture does the story justice. That girl just doesn't strike me as having Nora's feistiness. But hopefully this will encourage paranormal romance lovers to pick it up...?

Del Rey / Oct. 18, 2011 / Hardcover / 480pp. / $16.99

Sent by publisher/author for review. Thank you!


  1. You've made me glad I have a copy of this on deck! I'm always up for good characters and a romance that isn't insta-love :)

  2. No insta-romance? A real-life type of guy? I'm in!

  3. Yay, I'm so glad this one made you laugh! I've been looking forward to it for a while now. Although I do have to say that "some inconsistencies in worldbuilding, supporting character development, and plot" is kind of putting a hole through all the major aspects I need in a book. ^^;

  4. Steph Su- I've heard pretty much the same things as far as how this story went. Readers particularly liked/loved the characters, but the thought the actual story fell short in different areas. I'm getting a more clearly defined picture here, though, with your review. I still want to really want to read it!

    As much as I love the cover, I wouldn't suspect her to be feisty, you're right. But I'm a cover slut and it is an incentive.

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  5. YAY! I'm glad to hear that this one is good. I've got it sitting on my shelf to read I just need to get to it.


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