Review of DEARLY, DEPARTED by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sexy teenage zombies? Yeah, I was skeptical too. But in Dearly, Departed Lia Habel just about made me believe it.

This is a fun adventure/romance with an intriguingly unusual take on the zombie theme. Yes, there’s a zombie plague, with hordes of ravening flesh-eaters–but some zombies wake up with their minds intact and are able to refrain from gobbling flesh. Of course they require a lot of medical and mechanical intervention by sympathetic living people to keep them from, well, rotting away–Habel comes up with some ingenious steampunkish scenarios for zombie maintenance–but otherwise they can live pretty much like normal people.

This YA debut novel is well-plotted and paced, with exciting action scenes and a host of appealing characters (and, of course, some pretty horrible bad guys). The romance between the living heroine and the zombie hero develops believably, even if it sidesteps a number of important questions (um, sex? He’s dead, after all). The story is told from multiple first-person points of view–and that’s my only major quibble, because the narrative voices really aren’t distinct from one another (always a danger with this sort of narrative structure). If I stopped reading in the middle of a chapter, I often had to check the chapter heading to see whose head I was in.

Overall, an extremely promising start to a cool new series. I can’t wait for the next installment.

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