Steampunk zombies. What's not to like?
There is so much to love about this story. Great characters, amazing backdrop, decent plot, witty dialogue. I was laughing out loud through much of the book. The romance reminded me faintly of [b:Warm Bodies|7619057|Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)|Isaac Marion|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1323400027s/7619057.jpg|10090210]. But this is no Romeo and Juliet. There is some serious action going on here.
Lia Habel is to be commended for her attention to detail and research. The backdrop is fabulous. This isn't just a well-imagined dystopia. It is a clearly defined and well-thought out dystopia. We are given an extensive history of the world and why it has become what it is. This is important because it lends credulity to the premise; the Victoriana/Steampunk stuff doesn't just come out of nowhere. Equally well done is the disease which creates the zombies. Again, there is a detailed explanation - in this case, a medical one - for the condition. The science makes sense, even if it is fiction.
The characters were equally interesting, funny, and annoying. The annoying ones are likely that way simply because of the culture in which they exist, which is stiff and proper. I didn't like Nora at first. She seemed flighty and spoiled. But as the story progressed, she began to show a lot more maturity, and she grew on me. I didn't care for Pamela at all; I wish she had been a much lesser character. I didn't think she really complemented Nora; rather, she just whined a lot. The whole idea that she takes charge of her family just seemed ludicrous. Vespertina was a stock character I could easily have done without.
I was actually starting to get bored with this book until Bram came into the picture. Suddenly the dialogue was funny and clever. The other zombies - Sam, Chas, Renfield - were a hoot. Things began to liven up at that point, and I was captured. Bram was a good leader, and Habel was smart to point out that his group was the younger crowd on an army base of soldiers. It put their maturity into context.
Dr. Dearly was interesting. He began to flatten out as the book ended, but was very interesting when we first meet him. The bad guys were just your run-of-the-mill bad guys. I could see this story as a movie, something like World War Z meets Warm Bodies.
Ah, the plot. It was all over the place with the plague, the war, zombies versus zombies, crazy army guys, crazy guys in general, and a sweet romance. There really was never a dull moment once the action got going. It got a little hard to follow about 2/3 of the way in, and the epilogue and ending presented some intriguing setup for the next book. Despite the slow start, it did pick up relatively quickly and stayed interesting. The ending was well done, and I especially like it when we get the big finish and then a bit of life afterward.
I didn't mind the multiple POV's at all. In the audio version, they are voiced by several different narrators, which makes it easy to follow. I just wish we could have done away with Pamela. There was much more to be gained by focusing on Nora and Bram and the funny, interesting zombies.
All in all, this story provided a fun action ride with a nice splash of romance. I highly recommend it. This Victorian dystopian world will reward your imagination with incredible mind's eye candy. And get ready to fall in love with a zombie . . .