Monday, October 21, 2013

Audiobook Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed (Gone with the Respiration #1) 
Author: Lia Habel
Book Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 18, 2011

Narrator: Kiro Mai Guest
Listening Length: 16 hours and 46 minutes
Audiobook Publisher: Random House Audio

From Goodreads:
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?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

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.

This was my first time listening to and reading a novel characterized as STEAMPUNK.  For those not familiar with the term the best way I can define it is an unusual mixture of Victorian references and post-modern society. As with many literary genres, STEAMPUNK has a more formal definition, and I'm not exactly sure this book meets the full criteria.  Regardless, I found myself amused, confused, and entertained by the bizzare and absurd (used in a positive way here) mixture of social expectations, technologies, gender roles, and use of scientific knowledge.  One of the best examples I can provide is the chapter from Pamela's point of view where the best friend of the main character is complaining about the ridiculous expectations placed upon women in her new Victorian society while being trapped in her home because of intrusive paparazzi style reporters. 

Most of the book focuses on the development of the relationship between Nora and Bram.  This is a very sweet story of girl who falls in love with a zombie who fortunately for her as more human characteristics than dead.  While I found Nora slightly annoying at times, I generally enjoyed the scenes between Bram and her.  The scenes I enjoyed the most and where I found myself laughing out loud were the scenes with Bram's zombie friends.   
One of my favorite quotes from the female friend was, "Yea, she's not a loser.  We are so having a sleepover."  In addition to delving into gender norms and expectations during the Victorian era, the book also explored issues of social class in interesting ways through the character of Pamela and her family. 

As an introduction to STEAMPUNK goes, I enjoyed this book.  As a listening experience it was only okay.  The book is actually narrated by multiple people when the point of view changes.  I believe there  are at least five different points of view and while I enjoyed some of the voices, some I did not.  I will definitely try another STEAMPUNK book and I would read another book by Lia Habel.

Posted by: Sheri


  1. Meh I will probably pass on this one unless I run out of audiobooks to listen to hah. So far that's not a problem yet :)

    1. one of my favorite things about audiobooks is I can't read ahead and I can't skip a sense they force me to slow down! Thanks for reading my post.

  2. I don't see how you can keep track of everyone if you listened to this as an audiobook! I have such a hard time with that format as it is. 5 people kind of sounds like a lot. The whole steampunk thing is confusing to me too. I've read a couple of books in that genre but I didn't feel like the met the formal definition either. Oh well. I haven't heard of this book before but it sounds really interesting. I'll have to read it at some point!

    Christine @ The Bookish Daydreamer

    1. I think I'm going to try a few more of the steampunk books but reading them this time instead of listening. thanks for reading my post. ~Sheri