Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
ORDER A COPY: Dearly, Beloved
Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: September 25, 2012
Paperback: 496 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Can the living coexist with the living dead?
That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.
Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.
Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.
As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.
Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.
As we begin the second installment of Lia Habel’s Gone with the Respiration series, things have slowed down and the living and the dead are trying to learn to “live” side-by-side. Although Dr. Dearly has agreed to allow Bram Griswald to court his daughter, Nora is finding the return of the New Victoria stringent rules to be harder to embrace after the freedoms she was allowed during the siege.
Society in general has started embracing their undead relatives, but not everyone is ready to play nice on either side of the living and the undead. There are now men in masks calling themselves The Murder grabbing zombies off the street and attacking pro-zombie supporters. There is also a group of zombies calling themselves The Changed who want to protect their own.
As a zombie and former Captain of Company Z, Bram is trying to balance between keeping the living safe from mad zombies as well as keeping the innocent zombies safe from frightened living. As tensions begin to rise again as both of these terror groups run rampant through New London, he is starting to wonder whose side he should be on.
Nora’s best friend Pamela is showing signs of PTSD after her adventures during the siege. She desperately wants to return to her pre-siege life but is unsure if she can ever accomplish that.
All the while, Michael is putting into motion his grand plan to convince Nora that he is a better man than her zombie love; plans which include kidnapping them both and ripping out Bram’s unbeating heart.
I was very interested in giving this book a try and I would say that I have mixed feelings about it. The story was well written enough that it was enjoyable and the characters were likeable, even the villains (Michael is kind of a pathetic villain), but the constant switching of POV dragged this story out a great deal to the point I felt like “How can I still be reading this book?” There is a reason for it since it gives you not only insight into your main characters, but also into Michael and his obsession for Nora; we have a first person view into the Changed camp; and we also spend time in the world of Verpertine, who was a protagonist in the last book, and we are given a chance to determine for ourselves if she is truly evil and selfish (like Michael) or if there is more to what drives her.
There was enough to intrigue me to read the next story when it comes out, but I am hoping that it is intended to be a trilogy only. There are answers to questions that pop up in this story that I would like answers to, and we get a hint that Michael’s father is everything a true villain should be, but I know that I could not continue this as a series, her style of writing, although enlightening, is just too draggy.
I would also like to stick around to see if there truly could be a happy ending here. Zombies might be walking around but they are still decomposing. Our hero Bram may have 4-5 years at best before his mind decomposes to mush and he could be a danger to those around him. Unless there is a miracle “cure” found that will return them to living beings, there can’t really be a HEA for Nora and Bram.
I am definitely in this for one more book, but definitely no more than that.
Received digital ARC from publisher through Netgalley.com. Thank you.
Favorite Scene (Best scene of the book is the last chapter, but I won’t ruin it for you):
“I think I’d look awesome as a zombie personally.”
Bram’s expression went from jovial to mortally serious in about one second flat. He turned fully toward me and captured my upper arms, pushing me gently up against Papa’s gun cabinet. “Don’t joke like that,” he said, his voice focused and intense. He let go of me with one hand and gestured at his face. “You can’t become like this. You physically can’t. We’ve talked about this before.”
Forcing a laugh, I said, “I have to joke about it, Bram. Just like the rest of you do. It’s laugh or cry, live or die.”
“I know. It’s just…the hijacking reminded me of that. You have one shot at living.” He slid his big hands up my arms, over my shoulders, and cupped the sides of my face. “You’re perfect the way you are, Nora. Don’t ever think I want you to change, to be something you’re not.”
Had Bram felt the fear, too? Just a few weeks ago, terrified and overwrought, I had watched him while he slept, convinced he’d be taken from me. I didn’t want him to know. He was the strongest person I had ever met in my life. All my striving aside, as self-loathing as it might sound—I wanted to be worthy of him. I admired him that much.
“I won’t do anything stupid.” I promised, sneaking my hands up to lay them on his chest, marveling at the power I felt there—even as I failed, as always, to detect a heartbeat. “Believe me, I want to be safe. I want all of us to be safe.”
Bram slid the thin pad of his thumb over my cheekbone and nodded slowly. My breath caught as he started to lean closer, the motion of his neck fluid. We hadn’t kissed properly since Columbia, and I could still recall every second of the last one he’d given me. Sick as it was, I’d love the sensation of his cold lips so much that I couldn’t even comprehend the idea that warm ones might be better. I loved how firmly he had kissed me, just hard enough to hint at the sensation of a bruise. He was the only boy I’d ever kissed, and I knew he was perfect.
Thank goodness no one was around to see just how eager I was to disobey my father. Or possibly judge how disturbed I was. But if other people wanted to call me a “necroslut”—fine. That’s what I’d be. And I would never feel ashamed about it again.