Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

This review can also be found on my Tumblr and Goodreads.

Rating: 1.5/5

Reason for Reading: Required for work and it combines Victorian era with a futuristic/dystopia feel

Now, before you ask why it was required for work, let me example. At my job, we have monthly book discussions before our meetings and for August, the book theme was zombies. I wanted to explain this because normally I avoid zombies (unless it’s the show In the Flesh which is amazing if you have not seen it). So, already this book was at a disadvantage because it has a subject I don’t care to read about.

Let’s start with the positives: Lia Habel decided to combine the Victoria era with the future. I applaud the idea. I love historical fiction and I love futuristic fiction. I was reading a lot of dystopian stories, so Dearly, Departed seemed like it might fit right up my alley. The changing of the point of view each chapter was fun for the most part. I know some readers may not be comfortable with that, but I tend to enjoy it and am used to it after reading Game of Thrones. I said “for the most part” because I felt like one or two of the characters really didn’t need to have their own chapters and sometimes I forgot who those two were. Lastly, the zombies were realistic!

Zombies being realistic, how does that work? Well, when I think of zombies, I’m thinking decomposing, flesh hanging off the bones, some bones being broken, mindless let me eat your brains, kind of zombies. Habel had these zombies along with ones who did have minds. However, this is where I start going into the negatives.

After reading this book, I have come to the realization that I cannot read a romance between a human and a zombie. I draw the line at vampires. While both zombies and vampires are dead, vampires don’t usually have their eyes falling out of their sockets or their head on one side of the room while their body is on the either. One of Habel’s main characters is a male vampire in his late teens/ early 20s. Unlike his comrades, he doesn’t have any missing limbs or organs. He looks relatively normal except for super cloudy eyes. That was a relief and a disappointment for me.

Relief because I don’t have to read about a dead human with a giant hole in his face because his nose came off. A disappointment because he’s not a realistic zombie to me. He’s a perfect vampire that wants to eat brains. 

While I applaud Habel in combining the Victorian age with the future, I felt like it didn’t work. The reasons behind the Victorian culture being used in this world does not make sense. There are rebellions and wars. After the world has been used to our current culture, I don’t see it reverting back to Victorian. I have a hard time seeing women wanting to go back to a world where the men hold the power, they stay at home and trying to be perfect wives and daughters. There’s a moment in the book where the family is in mourning and the women are expected to dress in dark dresses (and only dresses on a regular basis), to stay at home. Marriage is the only way to success for women. I can keep going but the reasons why Habel’s world goes back to the Victorian era does not work in my opinion.

Dearly, Departed is part of a series and this book is more of “How humans find out about the zombies” than anything else. The first 200 pages was explanation on how zombies came about, what’s going on between the Royals and the Punks, how there are zombies who want to revolt. In a nutshell, too much explanation and not enough zombie action for me.

My final thoughts: Not much is happening, and I can’t do zombie/human romances. 

Reading Dates: August 12 – 26, 2014

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