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Dearly, Beloved - Lia Habel Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier.

The review contains spoilers about the first book.

Wolfe has been exposed as a traitor and the situation in the city is in control again. Now the whole population knows about the zombies and quite a lot have some undead relatives of their own. Pamela is one of them; her brother has been bitten but fortunately, he came back after a few seconds. Like everybody else as well, she has to fight with this new information, but not all are so tolerant like her family. There are those families and new zombies who struggle with a new life, and there is the constantly growing group of people that are afraid of zombies and want to truly see them dead. In the middle of the night some of them lead attacks against the undead – until even living civilians are hurt.
For Nora and Bram life isn’t easy as well. They would gladly use all their time to be with each other, but not only society’s moral standards prevent that. Bram does his best to protect both sides: the zombies that are punished for something that isn’t their fault, and the humans who actually have to fear attacks by rogue zombies. It’s a double-edged sword, which Nora also knows, who does everything to protect those she loves and to help the undead.
But with all their efforts the violent outburst of the conflict is a simple matter of time – only the outcome is uncertain.

A danger foreseen is half avoided? Unfortunately, it’s not quite easy like that, especially because more often than not the protagonists don’t see the danger or make the wrong conclusions. This time, the story is again told from the perspectives of Nora, Bram and Pamela, who are joined by Vespertine Mink and Michael Allister, who we met in the first book, and by Laura, a zombie girl that likes to grow plants on her body. Through all those points of view we get much more information than the characters themselves and have to watch them making big mistakes and thinking in the wrong direction. This is, on the one hand, incredibly frustrating, on the other hand it makes the novel much more thrilling. When will they realize their mistake and find those who are actually responsible? Will there be problems, because they’re so late? Which other mistakes are they going to do?

There isn’t much tension in the novel at first. The plot evolves slowly, just as it did in the first book. In time, we get to know the conflicts that have to be dealt with. It’s only when they start reacting to this that the tension rises – until more and more surprise guests show up and some characters act in a way I wouldn’t have expected them to. That’s not always a good thing; some of them really disappointed me. This is still something in favour of the book, though, because they all have another background and therefore react differently to what is happening. Not everybody’s a hero. That might be sad, but I’m fine with that.
There’s not enough space to give every character depth, but you wouldn’t really expect that from a minor character and as for the main characters, there’s nothing left to hope for. Still, in the end it gets pretty clear there’s a still a lot we have no idea of.

However, I liked the first instalment a little bit better. That has nothing to do with the ending that left me slightly shocked, even though I can totally understand Nora’s wish. What I missed was the humour. It’s still there, just not that often. The situation is entirely different, Bram & Co. left the army and are staying at Nora’s. They still help a lot on the streets and the research facilities, but their interaction is different now. Besides, there is this heavy atmosphere. Everything’s undecided and you can just wait for the escalation, when the drama finally starts. The humour doesn’t have much space left, but it’s there when it’s suitable.

The end actually is something like a new beginning without all that that has happened being forgotten. A lot of questions are left unanswered, some originate from the start of the novel or even the end of the first book, if you want to be precise, and some came up during the course action. Some are just introduced in the very last chapters, so it gets quite clear that Nora’s and Bram’s story isn’t over. This conflict between zombies and humans, between supporters and opponents is still there. Maybe even the Punks will be involved in the next book – it wouldn’t be too far-fetched.

To some extent, “Dearly, Beloved” is very much like the first book, especially concerning character variety and tension. But the situation is an entirely different one and the book lacks some of the former’s humour. That’s why I liked “Dearly, Departed” better, though that does not mean this book is a bad one at all.