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.
You know how you wait desperately for a sequel to a book and then you hold on to it for a while before you read it? There are usually a couple of reasons for this hesitation. One is because you loved the first book so much you just know that you are going to breeze through the next one and then it will be over and you’ll have to wait an eternity until the next book comes out. Another is that you loved the first book so much that you’re scared to death that the sequel isn’t going to come close to living up to your expectations. Just so you know. Dearly, Beloved doesn’t come close to falling into that second category. Yes, readers, you guessed it. That was my not so subtle way of warning you that this will indeed be a gushing review. *sigh*
I mentioned when I reviewed Dearly, Departed that I was hesitant in starting a zombie book. Actually, up until I read the first book in Lia Habel’s Gone with the Respiration Series, I hadn’t read a single zombie book. Sorry zombie lovers and bullies, I’m still not a huge fan of zombies, but I have fallen in love with Ms. Habel’s zombies. That’s a start, right?
One of the things that I like about this series is the fact that each chapter is dedicated to another character’s POV. The chapter titles indicate whose POV you are about to read. I know, I know. I can hear the groans already. Some of you really, really don’t like it when a writer lets you in another character’s head, especially when it isn’t one of the two main characters. I’m not one of those readers. I like finding out what makes another character ‘tick.’ Those glimpses, to me, give even the secondary characters a depth that they may not have had if they weren’t given their own voice. I even found myself sympathizing with characters in a way that I know I wouldn’t have if I didn’t know what made them do or act the way they did.
As for the story itself? Dearly, Beloved was so much more than I expected. The love story between Nora and Bram is both beautiful and heart breaking. It’s not just them though. Their friends and family are so connected and dedicated to each other because of everything they have been through. They are there for each other in a way that makes you love and respect them all. The other thing is that as desperate and dire as their situation may be. No matter how easy it would be to just throw their hands in the air and surrender to the inevitability surrounding them, they keep fighting. They had their moments of course. They weren’t all strong all the time and some of the characters are left in an unknown limbo at the end. Yet, for the most part, they draw strength from each other and carry on.
In Dearly, Beloved readers are also given a glimpse into the darker side of being a zombie. Not that we weren’t shown that with the mindless, ravenous zombies in Dearly, Departed. It was different this time because readers were shown how easy it would be for even a zombie like Bram or any of his ‘dead’ friends to give in to their anger. It makes the world that Lia Habel has created all the more fragile, unpredictable and intense. It also ensures that this is one series that I will stick with until the end.
Speaking of endings… it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that left me feeling as good as I did when I finished Dearly, Beloved. It was a surprise, at least to me. It also made perfect sense and made everything Nora and Bram had gone through up until that point totally worth it. There’s a lot more to Nora and Bram’s story and the other characters are left with their own lose ends, which is great. There are mysteries to solve, secrets to uncover, people to save and all that means that Gone with the Respiration has at least a few more books until it ends.
If you are someone who is on the fence when it comes to zombie reads, Dearly, Departed is the perfect place for you to start. I’m not saying that you will suddenly fall in love with the zombie genre. It hasn’t happened to me yet. However, it’s a great introduction and if you like the first book in the series, don’t hesitate to pick up Dearly, Beloved as soon as you’re done. You can thank me later. 😉
I picked up my copy of Dearly, Beloved from NetGalley in June. I loved getting my copy early in exchange for an honest review, but there was one draw back. I didn’t get to sit and stare at the gorgeous cover. My copy didn’t even have the finished front cover, much less this great back cover featuring Bram. *sigh*