Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Yes. Lia Habel's high tech with a Victorian twist world, rife with holographic edifices reminiscent of the world before the second ice age, took on a broader life in Dearly, Beloved that left me smiling for hours. The Characters from Dearly, Departed are here given the freedom to interact in new environments and blossom into themselves. Because the plot in the second book of the Gone with the Respiration series is less immediately catastrophic than the kidnapping plus zombie apocalypse scenario set forth in the first, the reader gets to see the characters in their daily lives and learn more about their world.
Of course, true to form, Habel doesn't leave anyone's world in tact for long. All too soon the fissures in the calm facade begin to show. Pamela's panic attacks prove to be not only merited, but nearly prophetic - Nora's independence leads her back into danger - Dr. Dearly's solution to the Laz proves to be too little to quell tensions between the living and the dead. Characters like Michael, who at first seemed simply callous, grow into full fledged villain-worthy unlikability while the seemingly vapid Vespertine blossoms into a deep woman with intricate motivations. Habel's approach to Bram in Dearly, Beloved is far more entertaining. Gone is the tired "I'm no good for you, I'm too dangerous," droning, replaced instead with a young man who doesn't pretend that he knows what's best for Nora at every turn, but instead allows her to make her own decisions. Sure, he continues to weigh in on her options, and she continues to at least consider the words coming out of his cold lips, but the dynamic morphs into something far more healthy and rather beautiful.
Although my experience with the zombie genre is limited to perhaps a dozen books, Dearly, Beloved has proved to be the most enjoyable. I look forward to the saga's conclusion, which can not come soon enough.