Before starting I must thank Hannah at Once Upon a Time for the book. I won it, but I still owe her a nod. And we had both thought the cover wasn’t great. But owning it and looking at it, I think it’s really quite nice. It’d stylised and in a weird way suits the story. I said it: I like the Orange Cover.
Dearly Departed is book, impossible to categorise, about a steampunk, dystopian world where there are zombies who are also civilised. And, to top it all, it’s a romance story.
The first issue I had to (mentally) tackle with this book was the romance between a zombie and living girl. I know the saying “Love conquers all” but never had I considered a human/zombie pairing. Frankly, the idea freaked me out and got me curious; would it work? I’m going to say yes. For the first three hundred pages or so, I kept changing my mind but then I just suddenly got over it. I think what I figured out was that it wasn’t something completely strange and the zombie-ism was just an element of Bram’s personality. I cottoned on that this was just another obstacle in romance, as a protective father or social climbing mother might be. At the end of the day, it didn’t really matter. I think that if you read the description of a human’s love for a zombie and recoiled, or had the curiosity I did, you have to read this. More than any romance I’ve read, this has changed my perspective on any and all love. It’s something we can’t explain away, and we have to accept that it’s about feeling and not all that nonsense with ‘hotness’ or other physical things.
After that, I enjoyed the book much more. The zombie-ism itself was well explained. I accept that it’s an unrealistic thing to ever happen in our world, but the idea that it is a prion in the body constantly trying to multiply and survive fits in with the biological idea of the world. The survival element of the gene is what embodies the uncivilised zombies, since that is all they care about. The civilised ones are those concerned with the survival of others above themselves. Everything made sense, which I like in any dystopia/post-apocalyptia/zombie novel.
The story itself is fine, but mostly unremarkable. It’s quite surprising sometimes, but there is so much going on that you forget to be surprised. It follows three sets of characters, one set made up of two viewpoints. So in way there were four linear storylines to follow as they ran alongside one another and crossed occasionally. It wasn’t confusing, but when you came back to a viewpoint you had to play mental catch-up before continuing.
Perhaps the only smidge of an issue I had was that it felt as though the book was trying to be funny too much. Occasionally this was one joke too many, but other times it was a complete change in tone. It was minor thing though so I shan’t dwell.
There nothing else to say except I loved all the little twists in the story and I couldn’t help but be drawn into this amazingly written story. It doesn’t feel like romance book (I think) and neither does it feel like a zombie or dystopia book. By combining everything as it did, it somehow managed to establish its own platform. It’s kind of wonderful.