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Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 by in 3 stars, Book Reviews | 0 comments

Dearly, Beloved

Author:  Lia Habel
Series:  Gone With the Respiration #2
Format:  e-Book Galley ARC
Source:  Del Rey/Spectra via NetGalley
Release Date:  September 25, 2012
Dates Read:  June 27-July 11, 2012

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.

 This book was obtained freely from the publisher, Del Ray/Spectra, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At its outset, Dearly, Beloved is a novel about consequences, and about picking up the pieces.  Nora must navigate the path between fitting back into her old life and society like her father wishes, and finding ways to help out the zombie cause, like she desires.  After what she’s seen and what she’s learned, she’s not content to return to parlor visits and etiquette training, which seem to have no value in the grand scheme of things.  Either way, she has lost the freedom she possessed months before.  She has a new boyfriend.  She wants to spend her time sharing little touches, kissing, just being together as much as possible.  Unfortunately, these are sins paramount to murder in the exceedingly proper New Victorian society.  Not to mention that her boyfriend is dead.

Pamela is dealing with the consequences of her heroic acts in Dearly, Departed.  She, on the other hand, just wants things to go back to how they were before.  She is having to come to terms with the fact that once you put one foot forward, life expects you to keep walking for miles.  Although it may be selfish, she just wants her parents to take care of her again, and to not feel like she is the one saving everybody and holding everything together.

Michael is furious with the results of the events during Dearly, Departed and is more than ready to make others deal with the consequences of their humiliating him.  Pamela has to pay.  Nora has to choose him.  He doesn’t care what the means to get to the ends are.

The zombie community is dealing with their many permanently dead, the hostile attitudes of the living, and their increasing desire to finally be free.  Tempers run high, and this becomes dangerous for both the zombies and the living they feel endanged by and that feel endangered by them.  While Dearly, Departed focused primarily on Company Z and the Grays, Dearly, Beloved focuses on the zombies that came through with their minds intact, and their relationships with themselves and those who would persecute them.  Who will fight back?  Who will fight to hold on to peace and maintain that they are the good zombies?

Dearly, Beloved is primarily a novel about self-discovery and finding one’s place amidst diversity.  Who will step up?  Who will fade into the background?  Who will fight the monsters?  Who will become them?  This novel asks those questions and more, and the characters struggle to find their own ways to answering them.

I enjoyed Dearly, Beloved, but not as much as its predecessor.  While I thought Dearly, Departed suffered from a brand of too-many-viewpoints-ADD, I remember it more fondly for its action and romance.  Dearly, Beloved also has several points of view, not all of them terribly interesting to me.  However, the main warning I must give to fans of the first novel is that it felt to me like Dearly, Beloved focused much less on Nora and Bram and the “cool characters” and much more on questions of actions and morality.  Overall, I appreciated the book.  Habel is a talented writer and has managed to churn out a quite complex book that somehow still fits together.  I look forward to the third installment of Gone With the Respiration to see where the characters I’ve come to both love and hate end up.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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