500 pages of YA Fiction goodness, paranormal (dead?) romance and apocalypse amazingness. I think that Lia Habel and I would get along famously (and not just because she's in her twenties and lives in Upstate New York - shout out, Syracuse!).
Love can never die. 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.
In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.
So basically, in the future, they revert to Victorian traditionalism because it was the Gilded Age and everyone was proper and prosperous. Girls dress in fancy Victorian garb and ride around in electric carriages. Entire neighborhoods are built underground (can't really remember the reasoning, other than, hey, it's the future!) and a zombie virus has started to infect bordering nations to New Victoria.
Though the government has tried to both contain and cover-up the outbreak, it's quickly spiraling out of control and Nora (our lovely, brave, smart protagonist) has been taking from her home to a secret military compound for protection under the gentle care of (gasp) good zombies!
Now, to be clear, in New Victoria there are both good and bad zombies - and Bram, Nora's eventual love interest, is the best of the best. He so sweet he actually had me thinking that I could maybe go for a good zombie if the world came to an end (we would probably have to stop at holding hands though, let's be real).
- Originality: I'd give this an 8 - this is not your typical zombie novel and it's really, really well written. Miss Habel is a fabulous addition to the YAF genre.
- Absurdity: There's a bit of belief-suspension that inevitably takes place when you're talking about good vs. bad zombies and people running around in Victorian garb in about 200 years. Don't worry, friends, cell phones are still prevalent is post-Apocalyptic South America. 7!
- Level of Paranormal Romance: 7 - this is sweet, lovely young adult romance. Nothing too major, but adorbs all over the place. I heart Bram!
- Level of Harry Potter-ness: I'm going to give it up for Lia, I'll give this a 8.5. She's a great writer and she really spins her tale. This is an extremely well written book!
On to the next ...