Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Book Review – Dearly, Beloved: A Zombie Novel by Lia Habel

Dearly, Beloved: A Zombie Novel
Lia Habel
Trade Paperback
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0345523341
496 pages
Advance Reader’s Copy


     Their love knows no end… well, his doesn’t. Can a Steampunk lady from the crusty upper class find unconditional love with a handsome, urban-guerilla zombie?

     Dearly Beloved is the sequel to Lia Habel's novel Dearly, Departed which I did not know when I originally made the request for the Advance Reader’s Copy (Yes, I know, shame on me for not doing my homework but the premise sounded good. It was a zombie story! What of it?) At any rate, when I understood that it was the second book in a series it all began to make sense to me. It explains my feeling of being slightly lost, albeit momentarily, through the first chapter or so. This is not the first time I’ve accidently read a story out of series order (probably won’t be the last either) and I apologize to the author for not being able to connect Dearly, Departed (which I did not read) with Dearly, Beloved. It also explains why some of the characters felt, to me, so familiar to each other both in dialogue and action. This is a very good thing for a second book in a series, by the way. You want your characters to interact with familiarity and understand some of each other’s motives and emotions. All that said, this could have been, in my opinion, a stand-alone story on its own merits my confusion not withstanding. Dearly, Beloved is a very good story that contains intricate sub-plot twists, a world full of unusual (sometimes bizarre) characters, and multiple political and social points of view. Habel is a competent writer, has exactly the right voice needed to create inventive stories in the genre, and managed to integrate unique and creative ideas into her narrative. Always an advantage in a genre overflowing with overused tropes, memes, and cliché.

     The interesting idea here is that zombies can lead fairly normal lives if they reanimate early enough to prevent too much deterioration to the brain and are able to control their animalistic lust for consuming human flesh. And in this world zombies are considered second-rate citizens that many believe should not be afforded the same rights as the living. The socio-political climate is in a delicate balance that’s about to boil over. A dangerous standoff exists between “The Changed,” a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for their survival, and “The Murder,” a squad of paramilitary rebels determined to terminate the living dead and their living allies. Nora Dearly and her zombie boyfriend, Bram, fight together to keep both their worlds from erupting into social unrest and violence while attempting to understand the unique complications of their living/undead new love. Hell of a way to develop a budding relationship!

     Those of you familiar with my blog know that the Romance genre is one that I normally do not read or review. This particular book then presented me with a serious review dilemma. Should I read Dearly, Beloved with the pre-formed notion that I’d more than likely rate it low simply because it is a Romance or do I take the chance and hope that the Zombie elements outweigh the endearments? The answer? Dearly, Beloved is, in all actuality, an excellent Zombie novel with interesting and captivating elements of Romance, social reform, violence, and xenophobia deftly woven into the backstory. While not quite the type of story I normally showcase here Dearly, Beloved was a surprisingly intelligent, creative, and entertaining read.

     File with: Virus Apocalypse, Neo-Victorian Gothic Romance, Noir Steampunk, zombies, The Walking-Dead meets Romance, high-society, adventure, futuristic thriller, social unrest and reform, commando guerilla zombies, soft porn, and living corpses.

4 stars out of 5

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Dearly, Departed Series
1. Dearly Departed (2011)
2. Dearly, Beloved (2012)

Dearly, Beloved: A Zombie Novel Amazon Page

Dearly, Beloved: A Zombie Novel Excerpt

Dearly, Beloved: A Zombie Novel Review and Interview

Official Author Website

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