For the next bonus book, I read Dearly, Departed, from the Gone with the Respiration series by Lia Habel.
This was another Vaginal Fantasy book club pick. I should probably preface this review with the caveat that even after the last interesting zombie book, I still really don’t care for zombies. Not liking zombies makes it awfully difficult for me to be open-minded about “illicit zombie smoochies” as one reviewer aptly put it over on the GoodReads book page. A romance wherein one half of the couple is a corpse requires a lot of open-mindedness, even if that corpse is relatively well-maintained and sates its cravings for fluids and proteins with ample helpings of tofu rather than delicious human flesh. I was unable to keep that open mind.
The world imagined and described by Habel is interesting and awfully promising. She attempts to explain why a futuristic, post-apocalyptic society would again choose the repressive, strict social customs and morals of the Victorians and pair it with their nifty technology, and in a weird way that seems to jive with a certain uber-conservative mindset alive and well in my own nation, I can see certain very rich people working very hard and using a lot of their money to make that happen. Perhaps more disturbingly, I can see a lot of people joining them for a lot of reasons, most of them deriving from the promise of security and comfort. The slight technology-enabled twists on the Victorian-esque customs I found entertaining, but the childish and naive teenage main character and her undead teen beau I found less tolerable.
I suppose Bram wasn’t all that bad, given his circumstances. At least he behaved relatively consistently to himself, give or take some youthful yearnings and confusion. I realize that Nora had quite a shock, but going from “this life is sad and small” to “OMG I HATE YOU ALL YOU FREAKS” to “woah, hottie alert” to “whee, teh techmologies! this is totes norms” to “OMG YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO” in a matter of…what, a day? A day and a half? And some of those transitions in the space of a paragraph or two? Hard to suspend disbelief. The re-animated corpses were more human than she was, at times. This is a common element of YA, in my very limited and possibly prejudiced opinion, and the whiplash and melodrama really isn’t my cup of tea.
I gave this one a three out of five stars. Had the world-building and potential inherent therein been any less, we would have been looking at 1.5, pronto.