Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Dearly, Departed

Dearly, Departed - Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker. I received my copy through Amazon Vine.After a catastrophic apocalypse, society has rebuilt itself in the image of Victorian England. Nora Dearly and her best friend Pamela Roe are two young ladies attending St. Cyprian's and just after they return home for winter break, Nora is attacked by zombies and then kidnapped by more zombies--but these are supposed to be the good zombies. One of them, Captain Abraham Griswold, fascinates her and in turn, she fascinates him. As the Grays, the bad zombies, attack Nora's home and the numbers of infected people skyrocket, Bram and Nora while Pam will have to defend herself and her family to keep from being bitten too.For me, the most stand-out part of the novel was Pamela Roe, a supporting character and one of the five narrators. POC (Indian, specifically), a scholarship student at St. Cyprian's, and Nora's best friend since childhood, she is what got me interested in the book when I thought about giving up on it. About the time she stabbed a zombie through the eye with her parasol, the book gained my full attention. Nora's personality and life are far less interesting than Pam's, what with Michael (I can't say anything more about that without giving it all away), her pushy brother and slightly-less-pushy parents, and everything she is going through as Nora goes missing and the infected take over the city. I wish she had been the main character instead of Nora!Concerning Bram and Nora, the actual main characters, I liked them. Not loved like Pam, but liked. Their development as characters and then as romantic interests to one another was well done and reading about it through both their eyes was great. Toward the end of the book, their points of view started getting a little too samey, though, and it doesn't feel like it was because they were picking up each other's habits. Other secondary characters were just... I wracked my brain for ten minutes for more to say and all I can come up with is "blah." That's a good word. Not terrible, but not terribly remarkable.The sci-fi aspects were amazing, though I've never been a scientific girl and could accept an obvious BS explanation because I wouldn't exactly know better. I've both explained it and had it explained to me as "futuristic steampunk zombies," but I'm not sure I should include the steampunk. There's the occasional mention of clockwork on the Punks' side, but that bit part in the background is the extent of the steampunk.There is one hole in the worldbuilding that I would estimate is the size of the moon. Women, if men tried to take away your hard-won freedoms and reduce you back to the point where you were only worth your uterus and penmanship, would you let them do it or would you fight to keep your freedom? In Nora's world, it appears the women handed over their rights to be considered people as easily as they would hand over a tissue to someone with a runny nose. Nora and other young women are educated on the pre-apocalypse times and know that they once had the freedom to be viewed as more than prospective wives and mothers. They just don't care. You can't even know how badly this bothers me. It's as if they feel women are better off without their freedom.Beyond that large hole that made me take off a star in and of itself, there were some narrative inconsistencies that bugged me. Say Nora is narrating. In one paragraph, she is speaking in past tense. In the next paragraph, she switches to present tense. Third paragraph? Back to past. This happens multiple times in other points of view. Then one of our five narrators could have been cut from the story to its benefit, and uneven pacing had me bored to tears at some points and unable to read quickly enough at others.I hadn't realized until I acquired the book that this is going to be the first in a trilogy. The second novel will be titled Dearly, Beloved and I can't even begin to think about when it will come out considering that as of press time, Dearly, Departed hasn't even come out. While I'm not sure I'll be seeking out more zombie books anytime soon (you can only do the zombie-attack storyline so many ways and it will all eventually end with people running from or killing zombies), I feel I can recommend this to others.