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

Posted July 17, 2020 by Angie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

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Review: Dearly Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1) by Lia HabelDearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1) by Lia Habel
Published by Del Ray on October 18, 2011
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia, Paranormal, Romance
Format: Hardcover (470 pages)
Source: Library
Purchase: AmazonIndieBound
Add Book: GoodreadsBookhype

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.


This has been on my to-read for way too long, and I’m so glad that I finally read it. It felt oddly timely, since the world has been mostly destroyed by a virus and other natural catastrophes. Civilization has rebuilt in South America, and has fallen back to Victorian times. But with zombies and technology.

There are five narrators here, which always makes me suspicious. It usually means that someone is going to die or that they’re a mole. I’m not saying that this is what happens, but, lots of perspectives. Captain Wolfe only has two short chapters, and they’re nonessential. Nora’s not-really-dead father has a handful of chapters as well, but those easily could have been a recap saved for when he was rescued near the end. It also would have allowed for a good plot twist of revealing he’s alive 300 pages in rather than 30 pages.

Our main characters are Nora and Bram. Bram kidnaps Nora to save her from being kidnapped by someone even worse. And he is one of the undead who retained their personality and brain functions. She’s the daughter of the scientist who has been working on a vaccine for the Lazarus virus. Our secondary character, Pamela, is Nora’s best friend who’s stuck at home during a zombie invasion and allows us to see what’s going on in the real world while Nora is being held with the zombie army.

This book is 470 pages, which is quite long for a YA novel, but I was never bored. Oddly, it took me nearly two-thirds of the book to even realize that nothing important had been happening. I was just enjoying it so much! The relationship between Nora and Bram and the other “good” zombies reminded me of that Disney Channel movie, Z-O-M-B-I-E-S. It was just fun, despite all of the violence and gore. A very strange combination, but it worked.

Ultimately, I just really enjoyed Dearly Departed. I normally don’t like Steampunk, and zombies tend to be hit or miss, but this one was 100% hit! While this could work as a standalone with a bit of an open ending, I’m eager to find out what happens next.

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