by Lia Habel
Series: Gone With the Respiration #2
Published by: Random House
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
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.
I loved the world building and secondary characters in Dearly, Departed and despite some issues I was looking forward to book two. I hoped Dearly, Beloved would deliver and instead it left me with mixed feelings. I truly struggled with this book and its six points of view. I read this over the course of three days and often felt disconnected. There were aspects I loved, and others that had me frustrated.
The tale picks up a shortly after Dearly, Departed ends. Bram and Nora are still very much in love and trying to make the best of their limited time together. The young couple, along with some of company Z have taken up residence in the Dearly home. The underground city is practically abandoned, and the artificial sky is dimmed. A new strain of the Lazarus virus has erupted. This has caused tension between humans and zombies. The city is in chaos. A band of masked young people are kidnapping zombies and they are never seen or heard from again. A group of zombies has banded together outside the city limits and Bram fears they are up to no good. It is dangerous to be a zombie supporter at the moment. Nora is trying to take care of everyone she loves. She also wants to be useful and refuses to leave the city. The tale has many different storylines, and I found parts of it fascinating.
The tale is told from six points of view. This was an issue I had with Dearly Departed with its five points of view. Once again I felt that too many perspectives clogged the tale. Characters that I adored in book one, fell apart in book two. I loved Pam and thought she was kick-ass and stole the show in Dearly, Departed. In this novel, she is paranoid, dramatic, scared and although she has amazing moments, she lost her mojo. Coalhouse a member of company Z who was witty and awesome has a meltdown in this novel. Nora is still head strong, fierce and protective of those she cares about. Bram was focused on his company and keeping humans and zombies safe. The romance was sweet and the two enjoyed a few stolen moments. I did like the development in their relationship. Ren, Chas, Tom and others were present. We did learn more about Dr. Chase and Samid’s background. Patient Zero was interesting and I admit to being curious about him and Michael’s father. Michael had his own point of view, and it was perhaps the most interesting. Lauren, a hippie zombie has her own voice making her the new POV.
There is a lot going on in this novel, many different story threads are weaved together. Sadly, the pace of the first three-fourths of this book was horrible. In book one I loved the attention to detail and world-building, this novel lacked those details. Habel’s writing style is lovely and some of the action scenes, and storylines had me completely enthralled. Overall though, the tale didn’t give me the rush I got from book one. I felt like I was at an amusement park, and spent most of my time waiting in line. I will say that when I did get on the ride, it was exhilarating. The ending wrapped up nicely, but there are still many unanswered questions. This novel is going to be hit or miss with fans. Despite, my feelings I would pick up a third book, but the anticipation I felt after book one is gone.
I had a love hate relationship with Dearly, Beloved. I still recommend this to fans of Dearly, Departed. Some of the stories lines were fascinating, and despite issues, I enjoyed aspects of this and adore Nora and Bram.
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