Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Early Review - Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Steampunk/Sci-Fi
Size: 480 pages
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0345523318
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Dearly trilogy
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book (Dearly, Beloved) should be released some time in 2012. This was an incredibly creative book, for the most part I enjoyed it a lot.

It is the year 2195 and Nora lives in New Victoria, a place that is a strange mix of the Victorian era and science fiction. Nora lives with her somewhat evil Aunt and her brother, her parents have both perished. Unexpectedly Nora finds herself gunning down mysterious killer zombies and kidnapped by some men in black. The men who kidnap Nora just happen to be affected by the Laz, basically they are dead. Among her kidnappers is the brave, handsome, and dead Bram. Bram tries to help Nora adjust to her surroundings but finds himself strangely drawn to her...and not in a "I am going to eat you for dinner" kind of way. Bram and Nora find themselves pulled into a plot that is part of a large government cover-up. When the news about the Laz gets out into the general public there is hell to pay and zombies are roaming the streets. Bram knows his time is limited, the dead can only "live" for so long, can him, his crew, and Nora save New Victoria before the whole population is zombified?

This is one of the most creative books I have read for a while. You have a science fiction world where Victorian principle reign supreme. There are different types of Zombies using steampunk technology; and a government cover-up to rival Watergate. There are shot-guns, there are parasols, there are airships, and there is bioengineering. Pretty much everything one could ask for. Lots of action, some romance, and politics.

This book has some complicated politics going on and to be honest it was a tad confusing in the beginning. You have the New Victorians and the Punks (two living competing factions), then you have the good zombies and the bad zombies (Bram's group and the Greys). The different groups of people believe different things to be true and there are some traitors thrown into the various groups just to mix things up. I enjoyed the complexity of it all, but did have a bit of trouble following for the first part of the story.

Nora is an excellent character, as was Bram. Both are noble, caring, tough, and very likable. There were a number of awesome side characters as well. While the majority of the story switches between Nora and Bram's points of view, a large portion of the story is also told from Pamela's point of view (this is Nora's best friend). Some is told from Wolfe's point of view (Bram's commander) and some is told from Victor's point of view (Nora's father).

The changing point of views is an area where I had some problems with the story. All of the point of view switching was a bit much, it broke up the story and drew things out. I liked hearing from Pamela and Nora/Bram. I think we should have just heard things either from Bram or Nora's point of view, not switched between both. Pamela had a very distinct voice. Bram and Nora sounded a lot alike, in fact I kept having to page back and check the beginning of the chapter to see whose point of view I was reading from...they just sounded identical and I wish they would have had more independent voices or styles.

The point of view switching and the fact that Nora and Bram sound identical to each other made the story feel a bit sloppy. So, while I liked the book overall, I wish it had been cleaned up a bit more (especially for the first half of the book). The pace of the book was great, especially in the second half of the book. There is a lot going on and it is an absolutely wonderful read. Things wrap up nicely but are also set up for the next book Dearly, Beloved.

Overall this was an absolutely amazingly creative book. I loved the complexity of the politics, the inclusion of crazy and wonderful things, and the likable characters. There were some flaws to the story too; the beginning of the book is a bit sloppy and hard to follow, the constant switching of viewpoints broke up the story, and Nora and Bram sounded so much alike that I had to constantly go back and check to see whose POV I was reading from. Honestly although I enjoyed the world and characters I had a bit of trouble with the first half of the book, the second half was awesome though. If I could grade parts of the book I would give the first half 3 stars and the second half 5 stars. A great read for those who love steampunk/zombie novels with some Victorian romance; just be prepared to slog through some terminology and politics in the beginning. I would also recommend Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series for those who love steampunk/zombie combos (although that series doesn't really have any romance in it).

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- The Debut Author Challenge
- Get Steampunked!
- Zombies! Reading Challenge

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book! I thought the time period and world Lia Habel was cool. I also really appreciated the complexity of the politics presented in the book. I agree, it was confusing at first, but I understood it better the further into the story I got. I do hope more of the politics comes out in the other books of the series.

    At first, I didn't care for all the different point of views that were used, but over time it grew on me. I really loved reading about Pamela and her struggle with classism.

    While Dearly, Departed was a fun and imaginative read, it was also bery deep!