Before I start this review I need to make a confession. Dearly, Departed is my first official zombie novel. Despite some sage advice and a tiny bit of bullying on the part of Amanda @ On a Book Bender, Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal and Ashley @ Bookish Brunette, I’ve managed to avoid all zombie novels. Why? Well the only excuse that I really had was watching the original black and white Living Dead movies. Every time I thought about reading a novel about zombies, that’s what I pictured. I’ve got a fair amount of zombie novels on my TBR pile, but I just never felt the drive to pick one up. For some reason the description of Dearly, Departed grabbed me. This book was definitely a perfect first zombie book for me to sink my teeth into. (Sorry, just couldn’t resist ;) )Lia Habel did a wonderful job at describing the new Victorian world that Nora and her best friend Pam lived in. Nora was the perfect heroine. She didn’t shrink back from a challenge or just accept things for the way they were. She gave herself time to absorb the info she was given and then went with it. It was great to see how she grew in the short amount of time she had to grasp the new reality she was forced to accept. She didn’t just cave, she didn’t spend time feeling sorry for herself, she adapted. I loved Nora!Before reading Dearly, Departed I honestly never thought that I could see how anyone could ever fall for a zombie. And then there was Bram. *sigh* He was more tortured than any male character I’ve read lately. Anyone who has followed any of my reviews knows exactly how much I love tortured characters. Half way through the book I was wondering how Nora couldn’t fall in love with him. He knew he shouldn’t love her, but he did. He was willing to accept any relationship he could have with her, even if it was only friendship. He had lost so much, he was loyal, brave and simply amazing. He was a zombie that it was impossible not to love and respect.Besides the fact that I loved Nora and Bram, there was so much more to Dearly, Departed that made it a great YA read. The supporting characters were spunky and entertaining. The bad guys were really easy to hate, there was plenty of action – beginning on the very first page and the book is told from more than one POV. I realize that some readers don’t like it when POV’s switch, but it works seamlessly in Dearly, Departed. You get a glimpse into the minds of not only Nora and Bram, but Pamela, Victor and Wolfe as well. For me, it made the reading much more interesting and gave each of the characters more depth than they would have otherwise have had.I’m really glad that Dearly, Departed is part of a series. It’s obvious that there is much more to Nora and Bram’s story even before reading the Epilogue. I personally can’t wait until Lia Habel comes out with the next installment to the Gone with the Respiration series. I’ll never turn down another zombie recommendation again.