Thursday, September 27, 2012

ARC Review: Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

Dearly, Beloved
Author: Lia Habel
Publication: Del Rey (September 25, 2012)

Description: 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 illness—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.

My Thoughts: This story continues the adventures of Nora Dearly and her beloved zombie Bram Griswold. Tensions are very high between the normal humans and the intelligent zombies. We see the story from a variety of viewpoints. Nora and Bram take the lead as does Nora's friend Pamela, Michael the aristocrat boy who is obsessed with Nora, and Laura who is a young woman who is part of the new zombie packs. Vespertine, Nora's school rival and reluctant aristocrat, also takes the lead for a few chapters. 

Dr. Dearly is still trying to find a cure for "the Laz" and is working almost non-stop to do it. This is complicated by the recent discovery of a zombie with a new strain of the disease. The vaccinations that were supposed to make the human population more tolerant of the zombie population are not effective against the new strain. Then there are the roving bands of young aristocrats who are targeting zombies and zombie sympathizers while wearing bird masks to ratchet up the tension even more. 

Smoke, the zombie with the new strain of "the Laz," quickly becomes the target for all sides of this conflict. Dr. Dearly wants him for research, the army wants him dead, the pro-zombie forces want to save him just because he is a zombie, and some other shadowy entity wants him for unknown reasons. Needless to say, Nora and Bram are soon neck deep in protecting Smoke.

This story is also a romance. While Nora and Bram are the most unlikely lovers, their love for each other is strong. Nora is a high class young lady who happens to be immune to "the Laz." Bram is lower class and from a Punk background. Then there is the whole zombie thing. Even the most cared for zombies have a limited time before the disease destroys them. Bram and Nora are looking at being able to be together for three years or less.

The story is a complex one that is woven together by the various narrators. I thought it was fascinating. I love the combination of Victorian morals, fantastic devices, and zombies. The writing is compelling and engaging. The characters are all distinct individuals who have their own realistic motivations for their actions. I still don't know if I really understand Lord Allistair's role in the whole story. What is he really doing in his genetics laboratory? Did he create "the Laz"and, if so, why?

I think young readers will enjoy this story. I can't wait to share it with them. 

Favorite Quote:
She narrowed her eyes and stepped between my legs, her skirt brushing my knees. "If that slug lays a single finger on any part of me, you have my permission to rip his head off and drink long and well from the blood that will spurt from his neck stump like a fountain. Okay?
I got this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

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