Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: Dearly, Beloved (Gone With the Respiration Series, #2) by Lia Habel

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With the Respiration Series #2)

Author: Lia Habel

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: 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.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Review: I had put in the request on Netgalley to read Dearly, Beloved without having known it was the second book in the Gone With the Respiration Series so I had been confused when I first started reading. It took a little bit of time for me to be able to get into the book as I tried to understand what was going on but the author does a good job of explaining what had previously happened in Dearly, Departed. Once I found my reading rhythm, I was hooked!

There’s a lot that takes place within the plot of Dearly, Beloved. Making things even crazier, the book is narrated from six different points of view! Basically, Nora is the daughter of a scientist who happens to be a zombie. She also happens to be dating Bram, an ex-solider now turned zombie solider. Zombies have created a tentative truce with those still living and can now freely walk among those who were not infected with the Laz virus that turned most of the population into the walking dead. The truce seems to be going well and those left of the population seem to be accepting slowly what the new way of life is going to be. But the truce doesn’t last long once news of the new strain of the Laz infection comes to light through a zombie who attacks humans and changes them and the vaccine has no power over. The zombie with the mutated virus, known as Patient Zero, is caught and kept under lock and key but that does little to ease the mind of those who are still living. As Nora’s father and his crew of scientists aim to discover how the Laz virus mutated and if they can create a vaccine for it, Nora and Bram have more immediate concerns to deal with. A new secret society of masked hunters known as the Murder, are determined to rid the world of zombies once and for all, even if that means resorting to kidnapping and murder. To top it off, the zombie group known as the Changed, have gone from peaceful protesting and helping fellow zombies who have been shunned, to committing mutiny and declaring war on Nora and her father.

I loved the Victorian type feel mixed in with a futuristic modern setting. The world building was lush and vivid, expressing the small and delicate beauties the world still holds and the dark, desolate truths seeping through the cracks. I liked the way Habel approached the mixture of simple actions acting as a mask to the monster beneath, the calm before the ravaging storm. The setting is crisp and detailed. The atmosphere and mood fraught with heavy grief, loss, and sparks of hope.

I also enjoyed many of the characters. Although, there were times I became increasingly frustrated with how many different points of view the story was told from, I was still able to capture the personalities to the characters, well most of them. Nora is smart, loyal, fiercely protective of those she loves and compassionate. She was cute and courageous. Bram is funny, kind, strong and great leader. Laura was sweet, shy and loving. Her story was heartbreaking and terrifying. She learns to be brave gradually, learns to find her voice and inner strength. I couldn’t help but root for her. 

Pamela, Nora’s best friend, I didn’t much care for. Yes, she had this deep inner strength and fire. I liked how much she put others needs above her own but she often came off whinny and boring. Vespertine was even more boring than Pamela. She was the standard arrogant rich girl who treats people like trash.

Michael, one of the villains of the book, was the best written character. He is boarding on psychotic, quietly churning out his plans, determined to make Nora see how much she’s better off with him—except he goes about it through kidnaps, tortures and murder. Michael is completely what you would expect a cocky, wealthy, good looking guy to be like—rude, manipulative, cold, and indifferent. But Michael had very much a feel of suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder because he had moments of clarity in his madness where he would start to regret his actions or fear the consequences. He has a cruel father and an absent mother so for Michael loving someone means forcing them to be with you or controlling them or hurting them. Michael believes the only way Nora will understand his feelings for her are through killing. Habel managed to show a sense of vulnerability in Michael’s downhill spiral of madness. He was my favorite character of the book. I enjoyed reading from his perspective.

But not everything in this book kept me hooked. One of the biggest issues was the fact that the book was told from so many points of view. The characters personalities and individual voices would get lost; leaving the reader to wonder which character was narrating a chapter even though each name is written at the beginning of a chapter. They started to blend into each other and sound the same. There was also an overabundance of explanation between the characters. There was a lot of back and forth between what goes on within the narration and reiterating that in dialogue. As much as I loved the world building, it also had a tendency to become too much. There were details that did not matter in any real way and could have been lessened to keep the story from dragging. Action scenes, although great when they arrived, were far and in between forcing the book to rely on characterization that got lost during narration because the points of view were constantly shifting and repetition as to what the reader was already aware of. I do like that Nora and Bram are fully aware and accept the fact that Bram’s time as one of the undead is limited and don’t go into their relationship with blinders on or false hope.

Dearly, Beloved was definitely a new type of read for me since I don’t really read zombie content filled books but it was a rather interesting and fun adventure. There is some great humor throughout the book and I like the subtle tokens to chivalry and civility shown throughout the way the characters think and act. The action scenes are full of raw pain and heart pounding tension.

I look forward to reading the first one and discovering what I’ve missed and continuing to read where the author takes the series.

Fans of the paranormal and fantasy genres will find the Gone with the Respiration Series something fun to take a bite into ;) 

About the Author: Lia Habel was born in Western NY – as far as it’s physically possible to get from New York City and still be in the same state, and official spooky abandoned farmhouse territory. As an only child of good geek stock, young Lia was lovingly reared on horror movies, video games, and Victorian novels. She developed an affection for horror movie monsters early on, often challenging her weary mother with lists of reasons why Jason Voorhees might yet be saved or excuses for Darkman’s cackling insanity. As she grew older and her natural sympathy extended to ever more serial killers, swamp monsters, sentient fanged beasts, and reanimated gents, her mother began to worry what her daughter might one day bring home.

Despite this promising start, Lia went on to live an unremarkable life. Although she entertained vague thoughts of one day writing (comic books, specifically), it was only her love of literature that compelled her to pursue her B.A. in English Lit from SUNY Buffalo. Afterwards, ever the generalist and lover of Old Things, Lia moved to the UK to attend the University of Leicester and get her M.A. in Museum Studies. Several scattered internships and jobs followed, but Lia was never able to obtain long-term, serious work in her chosen field. She wrote the first draft of Dearly, Departed while unemployed, because it seemed like more fun than filling out job applications. Ultimately, she ended up procrastinating herself into a wonderful career.
Miss Habel currently lives with three former alley cats and far too many Victorian ball gowns. She enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (her goal is to watch every zombie movie ever made), and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books.

Where to Find the Author

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