Consider Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed to be the anti-Twilight. Like Bella’s Edward, Nora’s Bram is undead. Unlike the sparkly Edward Cullen, however, Abraham Griswold is a rotting corpse infected with the Laz – a disease that reanimates a dead body and turns the person into a zombie. And, unlike Bella Swan, Nora Dearly has spunk and a mind of her own.
Dearly, Departed is set in 2195. Disasters have reduced the Earth’s population to various settlements in Central and South America. One settlement, a wealthy one, has chosen the Victorian era as the perfect time period in the past, and the inhabitants follow Victorian protocols. The Victorians are in a running war with a poorer group of people called Punks. Into this mix comes the Laz, and undead Punks and Victorians who have managed to keep their minds unite to battle it out with the mindless undead.
Beauty Nora Dearly’s father was an important Victorian researcher trying to find a vaccine for the Laz. Handsome Abraham Griswold was a Punk soldier before he died and got the Laz. Cue the star-crossed teen-aged lovers!
At one point, one of the zombies is reading some books from the past. In what is clearly a poke at Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, he says, “In all of these books the girls are throwing themselves at the romantic heroes – romantic heroes who are dead, who drink human blood.…Vampires are just zombies with good PR! That could be us in a few years!”
Dearly, Departed (the first book in a trilogy) is almost 500 pages long. I would have enjoyed it more if it was 100 pages shorter. It definitely dragged for me toward the end, once the novelty of the situations had worn off. Also, I did have a little trouble getting over the ick factor of making out with a zombie. Still, Dearly, Departed is a light amusing read. If you like paranormal romance with a touch of steampunk and lolita, I recommend it.