I've read a lot of YA dark fantasy romance — vampires, werewolves, you name it. This one was about zombies, and it was a really different take on zombies. I loved it!
Lia Habel's zombies are infected with a disease that causes their death, and then reanimates them. Depending on how long the brain goes without oxygen — before the reanimation — and whether the person is able to keep from going mad, many zombies are actually no different in death than they were in life... except for the inability to heal, of course.
The story takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic, yet steampunkish world where society has returned to Victorian values and culture. In New Victoria, Nora Dearly is the orphaned daughter of an important scientist. She finds out about the existence of zombies when she is kidnapped by a group of them, but as she learns to trust one of them, a young man named Bram, she discovers that they are the good guys, and actually saved her from a group of the "bad" zombies. Now Nora is involved in the battle that is going on in the border territories, unbeknownst to the regular citizens of New Victoria, and there are quite a few surprises in store for her.
One of the things I liked about Dearly, Departed was, like I said, the portrayal of zombies as something other than mindless, man-eating monsters. I also loved the way Habel switched periodically between narrators — although Nora was the main character and the primary narrator, a few others carried the story forward at times when Nora would have been unable to. The fact that the story was also often told from Bram's point of view actually helped to make him one of my favorite love interests in any book I've read recently.
I'm really looking forward now to the next book in the series (because of course it's the first book of a series — everything is part of a series these days), Dearly, Departed, but unfortunately the listing on Barnes & Noble's website doesn't have it coming out until September 25, 2012! Such a long time to wait!