Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1) by Lia Habel

  • Title: Dearly, Departed: A Zombie Novel
  • Classification: Young Adult
  • Genre: Steampunk/Paranormal Romance
  • Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1St Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0345523318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345523310

What if the one you loved died? Would you wish for just one more day with them? What if they came back from the dead? What if they were still themselves, just no longer breathing? Would you think them a monster or think it was a miracle? Think about it...

The year is 2195. A hundred and fifty years ago winters became longer and colder forcing the population to make a massive exodus "toward the new temperate zones along the Equator".  The whole world was affected, and the Americas faced a new strain of influenza that killed one of every four people it infected. Famine, a second American Civil war with its nuclear devastation, and the eruption of  a supervolcano under Yellowstone were the final straws that drained remaining remnants of the population from the US. Out of the ashes, however, a group of individuals, tribes if you will, united and joined forces traveling south into Central America.

When the displaced group finally decided to set down roots and build a government, they found themselves to be a decidedly conservative group. For one reason or another they latched on to the Victorian era and the fashions of  a long ago era became fashionable once again, along with it's etiquette, manners, and respect for elders. Because of this, they were referred to as the New Victorians. While many adopted this new society there were those which opposed it, namely the Punks.

Unbeknownst to most, however, was that another devastating tragedy was unfolding right under their noses. A disease which was deemed the Lazarus Syndrome (aka Laz or Z) was turning people into zombies--the living dead. Some of the infected became mindless beings craving human flesh, while others kept that portion of themselves which defined them--their souls if you will, and did not resort to a desire to taste the flesh. While the government knew of this illness, the majority of New Victorians were oblivious about it. That however, was about to change...

This was such an awesome book I am going to gladly eat my words. If you read my review of  'I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It' you know I stated I felt a Zombie/Human love story crossed some invisible boundary that should not be crossed. The thought was just a little too...well, Ew! Ms. Habel, however, masterfully maneuvered this very controversial ground skillfully and tactfully and somehow managed to remove the 'Ew!' factor. She put in boundaries that she deemed not to be crossed such as french kissing and well, more 'intimate' relations. The result is something similar to the below picture:

Yes, you first think aww, what a cute picture, then you kind of cringe if you think about it overly much, followed perhaps by a headsmack because you can't believe you fell into the author's trap and gobbled it up. Now I have to admit I'm sure some will not find a zombie/human romance tolerable, but for the rest of us this was a very fun read.

The characters are engaging and are some of the most likable book character creations I've come across. Nora and Bram are now two of my favorite characters and each realized how difficult a relationship between a normal girl and a undead boy would be, but sometimes bonds develop between individuals that just can't be denied. Each struggles against how they feel about the other knowing how seemingly impossible a relationship between them would be. I must confess, I fell a little in love with Captain Abraham Griswold (aka Bram) myself. He was such a great character.

As you can imagine, some of the teen zombies like Bram, have their own issues and those are also addressed in a charming and humorous way. Some wishing for girl/boyfriends and social lives.They now have to deal with the fact that what they thought their lives would be like will never come to fruition. Renfield, Chaz, Tom, etc. all added some extra depth to the story via their interaction throughout the story. The group, called Company Z (as in zombies), are used by the army to fight other undead and keep them away from the living. Whereas most companies would have "a no man left behind" policy, Company Z is considered expendable and there will be no one going after them if they find themselves in a threatening situation.

At the beginning of 'Dearly, Departed', Captain Griswold  and Company Z are sent in to extract and protect Nora when it was discovered that a enemy force of undead were plotting to kidnap her. That little conflict was the beginning of the end of the way of life the New Victorians previously knew. It was also the end of the government's best kept secret--zombies. Nora is thrust into a world she never knew existed and finds out her father, whom she thought she lost is now supposedly one of the undead, but he's missing. Slowly she and we alike learn the story behind Company Z, Nora's father's death, and why someone attempted to kidnap her.

So why is the book named 'Dearly, Departed'? My guess is because Nora and her father both have the last name of Dearly. At the beginning of the book, Nora is still dealing with the loss of her dearly departed father. Hence, 'Dearly, Departed', I believe, is a reference to her father's passing. I felt it was a very clever title.

Some of my favorite quotes:

- From the dedication at the front of the book: 'For my mother, who taught me early on that real ladies can give orders, real gentlemen can take them, and real zombies don’t eat brains.'

- I ran this through my "girl talk" translator and said, "I could eat him, if either of you'd like. Seems like it might be the easiest thing to do." (Bram says this in regards to a guy seriously upsetting both Nora and Pamela--it was just a little zombie humor.)

- "I speak the truth! In all of these books the girls are throwing themselves at the romantic heroes--romantic heroes who are dead, who drink human blood. Be of good cheer, my brothers, for I tell you there is hope!"..."Vampires are just zombies with good PR! That could be us in a few years!"

- "And the prions living in my brain crave new hosts and tell my synapses to make me a little nippy. In short, I'm newly rewired with a burning desire for a nice, warm body. You know like every other teenage boy."

I gave this 5 out of 5 roses. I fell hook, line, and sinker for this story which contained action, betrayal, zombies, and a touch of romance. I should note I listened to the audio book as well as read the hardback copy. My daughter heard some of the book while I was driving her to school and is now reading it. They did an excellent job choosing the narrators and alternating them according to whose point of view the chapter was dedicated to. At first I wondered why they didn't just have everyone read the lines of the particular character they were supposed to portray, but I realize now this was done so the listener wouldn't be confused as to whose "voice" they were hearing. The changing of point of view, each read in first person, may bother some readers, luckily I've never had that problem.

Notes to keep you in the know:
'Prion - A particle of protein that is thought to be able to self-replicate and to be the agent of infection in a variety of diseases of the nervous system, such as mad cow disease. Prion replication (in which strings of amino acids are reproduced) stands as an exception to a central tenet of biology stating that only nucleic acids, such as DNA, can self-replicate. The mechanism of prion replication is not clearly understood.

A Closer Look In 1997 Stanley Prusiner was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for his theory that a deviant form of a harmless protein could be an infectious agent, a transmitter of disease. Named prions (short forproteinaceous infectious particle), these misshapen proteins cause healthy proteins to misfold, fatally clumping together in the brain. Unlike other disease-causing agents, prions lack genetic material (DNA and RNA).'( The above information gotten from: )

Book Trailer:

Lia Hable discusses Dearly, Departed

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