Dearly, Departed is an unexpected, genre bending adventure. The world is an impressive mixture of dystopia, steampunk, and advanced technology. The world has basically fallen apart and reduced to individual tribes without any sort of centralized government. A certain conservative tribe decided that the Victorian era was far enough in the past that no one had any emotional ties to it and liked the idea of the virtuous, moral society that they decided to adopt it as their own. The resulting situation is Victorian era fashion, sensibilities, and social constructs coupled with futuristic technology. New Victoria isn't the only tribe out there. The Punks are an opposing faction that abhors New Victoria and things they are making the same mistakes that led to the original destruction of society: a hierarchical model and a reliance on technology. The Punks promote basic technology that man is in control of: nothing digital and nothing that creates a false reality. I really like that the main society does have a backlash movement against it, but these two deign to cooperate when their very lives are at stake.
In accordance with the New Victorian society, women are oppressed and can only succeed in limited fields if they navigate through the shark-infested waters of society by upholding ridiculous social constructs and customs. The two main female characters, Nora and Pamela, both have interests and attitudes outside of the realm of what is acceptable for their gender. I enjoyed seeing them just as frustrated as me when they were shunned or disapproved of for frivolous reasons and I relished with them when they overthrew the niceties of society when the situation became so dire that what people would think was the last thing on their minds.
The zombies are a little different than the zombies you may be used to seeing, but no less awesome. A prion is the culprit and it's transmitted through bodily fluids, which of course includes biting. There are two types of zombies that result from infection: the mindless, ravenous zombies and coherent, sentient zombies. The sentient ones are just regular people who have the minor misfortune of being dead and the inconvenience of decomposing. The zombie soldiers are easily patched up when injured and take injections to further preserve them, but they will all eventually succumb to being a ravenous zombie when the prion destroys their brains. I like the new mode of infection and the logical reasons for two types of zombies.
Dearly, Departed is a wonderful read that would appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has romance, adventure, zombies, action, science, and war. The only thing I didn't like about the novel was that the world building took a while and a lot was told to us rather than shown. Since the world has already been established, I predict that the second book will be even better as I eagerly await it.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins
Dearly, Departed will be released on 10/18. Check it out here.