04 January 2013

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

Dearly Departed (Gone With the Respiration #1) by Lia Habel.
Audience/Genre : Young Adult/Paranormal, Steampunk.
Publication : September 29th 2011 by Doubleday Children's Books.
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?

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.

Reviewed by Priya.


Explosive. That is my one word review for Dearly Departed. On a longer note, I am completely blown away by this book. I had quite a lot of expectations from Dearly, Departed and this book not only met, but surpassed them all. This book is wickedly and wildly imaginative with a strong plot that leaves you turning pages, wishing for just another bite (it's a zombie book, so pun is definitely intended).

I am absolutely smitten by Lia Habel's writing. With her hormonal teenage observations and witty responses, I found myself giggling or outright laughing a lot of times. Habel has talent, I gotta say. She can do humor (awesomely), she can do drama, she can do action and she certainly can do romance. She created characters of a wide range with their own voice, own views and beliefs and quite colorful many-faceted personalities; nothing was overrated and nothing was too cheesy.

Habel created a world that isn't much far from history. Differences arise, society is divided and everyone wants their right because everyone has their own opinions. That is one of the major crux point of the story. First, it was the New Victorians and the Punks. Then, the living against the undead. People live in fear of what they don't understand, Habel took advantage of that very fact and executed it in different aspects of her novel wonderfully.

Another plus point for Habel is that, there are consequences for her character's actions. Everything is not rainbows and unicorns, everything doesn't work your way, everything isn't black and white. Bram, Nora and everybody are in a world being ravaged by a sickness with an increasing number of undead, life isn't easy in such a time and Habel definitely didn't make it any easier for them. Dearly, Departed left me gut-wrenchingly broken, somewhat glued me back and then smashed me into infinite little pieces.

“I really sucked at this whole "I am very attracted to you and would like to demonstrate this to you via attention and creative uses of my disposable income" thing.”

The romance between Nora and Bram is what I call well-written and realistic (as any zombie-human romance can be). Not at all like - girl is food, boy shines and bam, insta-love. No, this were two teenagers overcoming fear and confusion, finding friendship and attraction. There was a foundation, a base, on which their relationship was built and developed. I was continually fascinated by the ever-changing dynamics in Bram and Nora's relationship, which Habel executed brilliantly.

“The fact that she made this beeline for me both warmed my soul and made me want to turn around, walk out the door, and find a cliff to fling myself off of.” 

Dearly, Departed did have its share of wild old-world words, too. From being strange like milquetoast and rump to quite hilarious ones like hoity-toity (it was Bram! Why Bram, why did you use such a feminine-sounding word? Why?!) and poppycock, I wonder how anyone kept a straight face in the Victorian Era.

“She tried to compose herself then, with several deep breaths. I gave her as long as she needed, all the while mentally designing my tombstone. 'R.I.P, Captain Abraham R. Griswold. He was completely useless and made girls cry'.”

Bram Griswold. Where to start about this magnificent, unfortunately fictional piece of well-preserved undead masculinity. First of all, I'm so glad he was no 'I am dead and you are my food' kind of deal, neither he was too chauvinistic or dominating or insufferably controlling or depressingly aloof. He liked Nora and he tried to woo her, he made attempts to make her happy, he was worried about his looks, he was easily embarrassed by his friends and did things he was not proud of. He was like any other normal teenager and that side of him, in my opinion, made him easily likable and a great male protagonist.

“I wondered if there was a crazy person's license you had to apply for, some seminar you had to attend, or if you could just walk out of the house one day and get started.”

Nora Dearly was just the right kind of stubborn, not too annoying, not too easily convinced. She knew when she was being helpful and when she needed to be out of the way for others to do their thing. She was snarky, she was sarcastic, she was unreasonable and she was impulsive. She was real like any other character in this book, with her plus points and weaknesses. And, I loved her for it.

Pamela Roe, simply put, became an idol of mine and my respect for her grew with every other chapter on her. Her POV was a powerful description of a fighter's survival in a world descending into sickness and chaos. Renfield Merriweather was another character I loved. I truly hope he too gets the love he desires for. And Baldwin Samedi? Can I say he is the just most awesome, coolest and hilarious of all characters? Because he sure as hell was. Then there was Chas, Tom, Coalhouse, Beryl, Vespertine Mink...  by this time, I have realized it is quite hard to not like any character created by Habel, lead and supporting both.

While, I am still mourning the end of Dearly, Departed, I definitely can't wait to sink my teeth - and hands - into Dearly, Beloved, the second novel in the Gone With the Respiration series (can we take a moment to bask in the awesomeness that is this series name).

“No, not really. But …” Okay, I couldn’t help but gloat a little. “She likes me.”
Samedi didn’t even look at me. “Well of course, you’ve had that bloody uniform on all day. I was half ready to tell you how much I liked you.”

Buy The Book :

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Find The Author :

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  1. Aha, I was thinking the review style didn't seem like Anjana's. Then I scrolled back up and saw it. Great review Priya!

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