Dearly, Departed (Gone with the Respiration #1) by Lia Hable
Genre: YA, steampunk, dystopia
Published: September 2011, by Doubleday Children’s Books
Source: From Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity
This was certainly an interesting book and like nothing I have ever read before. It has such a crazy genre mash up! With a combo of dystopia, historic/futuristic + zombies and warfare, I had no idea what to expect. I had difficulty getting through the intro, and then some more difficulty getting into the story line with my mind selectively choosing what it wants to read. Though I absolutely loved the characters and was crazy over the romance!
Dearly, Departed is a dystopia book after the worlds’ left over population decides to re-live the days of English Victorians. The book follows Nora – a young lady who’s status and strong personality allows her to defy social norms, after she is taken hostage by a group of walking dead. Yup. Zombies. Woo hoo!
Because this is such a strange and complex world, the beginning takes it’s time to explain everything to us. For some reason, my mind didn’t agree with this. To be blunt, I found this long intro to be boring, even though it was fairly interesting – if that makes sense. So I had heaps of difficulty getting into this book – taking me nearly 4 days to read 100 pages.
After this, another problem occurred – the book didn’t have my entire attention. After dragging myself through the intro, I was searching for something to love. I started too really like the scenes with Nora and Bram, and seeing their reactions to each other. So when other perspective came into it, I barely paid attention to them. Because of this, I missed a lot of the plot line.
Luckily this problem was short lived – by about halfway I began to be interested in the plot again and started to actually pay attention to the other perspectives. Though I became super confused towards the end when all this stuff is revealed, and I had no idea what was going on. I got it eventually, it just wasn’t effortless and required lots of careful reading.
Despite this slow start, I have nothing but good to say about the characters. I loved them all! Even the bad guys. They were all very well developed, the badies having understandable motives and the goodies were mostly well balanced and realistic.
Nora and Bram were great leads.. Bram has such honesty, moral and will power; it’s almost humbling. While Nora is this stubborn, strong, real character who I loved. I loved that even though her world had gone back to the days of women meaning little to society other than looking pretty, Nora still took pride and fought to be herself.
I also adored the friendship she had with Pam. It was so believable. In real life, there usually is a position of power between friends. You can see this in the relationship between Nora and Pam. It was obvious that Pam looked up to Nora immensely. What I loved even more, is how this character grew more into herself and became more independent as the story went on. I loved watching her transformation.
I also like how clever Habel is with her characters! There were a few slimey’s in there that I never would have guessed. I really admire how she makes me believe one thing when the opposite is actually true!
And I can’t not mention the romance. Even though it was somewhat quick, I believed it entirely. I also liked how the zombies weren’t just bad, mindless things as they are in most books. And I liked how even the good ones were fairly balanced with both good and bad.
So I had a few issues with the plot, pace and reading experience of Dearly, Departed. But I thought Habel did a terrific job with characters and setting, creating this awesome vibe from the strange era and Victorian/futuristic themes. Everything down to the clothes, the society, behaviors and attitudes were awesome and so much easier to understand than it is in a historic book, without all the fancy words and writing I can’t quite understand. So, despite my issues with this book, I’m giving it a three because I most definitely want to read the next book!