Ya Fiction Lia Habel Dearly, Beloved

ISBN 13 : 9780345523358

Dearly, Beloved

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9780345523358: Dearly, Beloved

Dearly, Beloved Lia Habel's spellbinding mash-up of sweeping period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama rises to a whole new level of innovative storytelling with "Dearly, Beloved." A high-tech, post-apocalyptic society dressed in the trappings of an antique era isn't New Victoria's only contradiction. Ever since the outbreak of the mysterious plague known as "The Laz" turned thousands into the living... Full description

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Habel / DEARLY, BELOVED

1 Nora

When I got to the top of the hill, the zombie caught me. I dropped my parasol and leather-­bound digital diary in shock. He pulled me to his body from behind, imprisoned my tiny hands in his so I couldn’t fight back, and parted his cold lips at the nape of my neck.

I squealed with delight, even as I drummed my boot heel on his shin. “Bram, let go!”

“Never,” he growled against my skin following the kiss, his voice causing me to flush. Before I could protest further he actually picked me up, starting to spin. Laughing despite the ridiculousness of it, I kept my eyes open, watching the scenery fly by—­especially the hilly area to the east that eventually rose into the city of New London, Nicaragua. The capital of New Victoria. The heart of all the world I’d ever known, now transformed, somehow shattered—­half dead and half alive.

Dawn was just beginning to cup the earth in her pale hands. To the west, miles off, the mansions of the rich and titled lay mostly abandoned; only the odd light dared to advertise the presence of people. A few lights shone from the city, the shimmering of holographic building facades and electrified advertisements, but for the most part New London still slumbered on, dimmer than I ever remembered it being. There was only the red-­tinted lantern on the top of my fallen electric gas-­lamp parasol to light our way upon the low hump of earth that marked the location of the Elysian Fields, the underground housing complex my family called home. I might’ve chosen one of the colors meant to advertise the romantic availability of young ladies—­pink for dating, etc.—­but I wasn’t romantically available.

I was spoken for by the zombie, and the leaders of feminine teenage trends had decided red should be the color for that. The color of sympathy for the dead. I normally didn’t care about such things, but in this I was willing to be trendy.

Bram freed me, and I staggered away from him, eventually falling to the ground amidst my skirts. “That’s the only way to make you be still sometimes.”

“So . . . unfair,” I panted as he limped over to join me. As he did, he glanced at the city himself. The view was spectacular, and the area landscaped to invite enjoyment of it, with circular pathways and benches crafted of the same marble used for the gated entrance located at the base of the hill. Although it was exposed, it was also isolated—­and thus the perfect place to sneak away to every morning. “You’re bigger than me.”

“I enjoy the walk up here as much as being here, you know. When you run ahead—­that’s unfair. Besides . . .” He sat and fixed me with his cloudy blue eyes. “You think you’d know by now that when you run from me, every instinct I have wants to chase you.”

As I caught my breath to reply, I found myself staring at him. Bram Griswold was two years dead and still so handsome and full of life, his ghost-­white features expressive, his body tall and strong. The light atop my parasol didn’t chase the shadows off his face fully, didn’t highlight his brown hair, and I was reminded of the first time I’d seen him, cloaked and lit by streetlamps.

Then, I’d thought him a monster. Now, I loved him so much I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“The zombies came from here,” I reminded him. “We should probably walk yards and yards apart. If anyone was watching us, they could get nervous.”

“I should be the one in front, if we’re going that route.” Picking up my digidiary, he handed it to me. “And I’d rather not think about that.”

Chastened, accepting the book, I felt the warm April breeze stirring my black curls, playing with the hem of my long pink dress and the bit of red ribbon Chastity had cheekily tied to the hip holster for my pistol. The fact that my beau was dead didn’t disgust me, didn’t scare me. Not after all I’d seen. Everything was still so fresh, and I wasn’t sure if this was ultimately a sign of madness or compassion.

I truly was my father’s daughter.

“We’re here, at any rate,” I said. “Assume the position.”

Laughing, Bram moved back. “I didn’t die just so I could be your pillow, you know.”

“Then why are you always the perfect temperature?”

We sat on the grass as a New Victorian sometime-­schoolgirl of middling social rank and a Punk miner, member of a tribe my people had long ago exiled to the southernmost reaches of our Territories, should never sit—­Bram lying on his back, watching the sky slowly banish the stars, me on my stomach with my chin and my backlit digidiary propped up on his lifeless chest. Alone. It was horribly scandalous, naughty behavior—­and to us, commonplace. We’d been in the thick of it during the Siege almost four months ago, the attack by hordes of mindless, ravenous, “evil” zombies upon the city. We’d spent months afterward holed up in the jungle on an archaic airship with a heteromortal crew of scientists and soldiers, returning to the city only when it seemed like the vaccine my father had created against the reanimating illness known as the Lazarus might work. Our courtship had taken place on secret army bases, aboard airships, and finally in Eden. Altogether, it had been a marvelous success. But now we were back in civilization, and we had to be more circumspect. At least according to Papa.

I pushed him out of my mind, even as I tried to do the fabulously stupid, petty, useless thing he wanted me to, using my fingertips to access my school-­issued digital copy of Deportment and You: A Text for Young Ladies of Refinement.

“Oh, look. Handily enough, this chapter talks about Punk manners, or lack thereof,” I said teasingly as the book loaded. “Want to do the end-­of-­chapter quiz with me? I’ll try to find the least insulting questions.”

“As if the answers won’t also be insulting?” Bram said, his lips quirking. “I know how your people work. They’re polite to your face, and get you the second your back is turned. No offense.”

“None taken. You speak God’s truth.” I flicked through the pages. “Okay, then. How about courtship etiquette? That’s extremely relevant to our interests.”

“Is this chapter going to club me over the head with yet more ways I can’t touch you or talk to you?”

“Pretty much.”

“Skip that one, too.”

I paged through and laughed, turning the digidiary around to show him a section about wedding etiquette. “Look. This part is seriously about forty pages long. This is curriculum at St. Cyprian’s, a school that costs my father a small fortune every year. That he’s insisting I try to keep up with, even though, you know, Apocalypse.”

Bram tilted his head to the side, as if regarding a puzzle. “Forty pages about weddings? Don’t you usually just go to a judge or a preacher for something like that?”

“Girls are supposed to obsess over them. Aunt Gene wanted me to.”

“Is this a hint, Miss Dearly?” As he asked this question he drew a serpentine pattern on the small of my back with his fingers, just above my bustle, and I shivered a little. And not just because his hand was freezing.

“No!” I flushed and shut the digidiary, sitting up and hurling it halfway across the hill. As I did, I released a primal scream—­well, as much as I could. I still looked and sounded immature, even though I was now seventeen. Bram laughed and pulled me back down, and my cheek found his shoulder. “I give up for another day. I tried, but studying how to be a lady is still too mind-­blowingly stupid to focus on, given all that’s going on in the world. Tell me a story?”

Bram thought for a moment, and then started in on a story he knew I’d like—­about the big Punk cities I’d never even heard about before I met him. About how they were founded where the Punks had fought battles against the southern tribes to maintain the borders of their settlement area, and how they were populated by a mixture of Punks and mysterious southern tribesmen, peaceful accords having been reached after years of struggle. The actual stone and metal buildings, and how they were vastly superior to holograms in every way; the automaton shows; the Punk fashions. His voice was rough and low, a sound I adored. A sound I could lose myself in.

As he spoke, I watched the sky brighten. I wanted to see the rest of the remaining world—­from the glacier-­locked Wastelands of the far North to the deserts of the South. All of it. I couldn’t drive, but that didn’t stop me from occasionally imagining myself stealing the keys to Aunt Gene’s electric horseless carriage and flooring it. I knew the world was changing, reacting to the revealed existence of the undead. Reacting to the fact that two weeks ago a few vaccinated people had been bitten during a riot and still contracted the Lazarus. Reacting with fear, with anger, with . . .

I stomped on that thought before my imagination could run with it. Since learning of the postvaccine infections, fear about what the living might do if they lost their feelings of security around the “civilized” dead had been threatening to consume me, and I was growing sick of it. It kept robbing me of sleep, forcing me to forge guesses about a future I couldn’t possibly know. It was changing my father, too, making him both demanding and distant, taking him away from me again. It kept ruining moments like this. And it had no right to.

Bram finished his story. His lips found my brow, the sensation instantly identifiable due to the bit of thread that stitched his broken lower lip together. I loved his every scar. They would never heal, and he bore them all so patiently. “Have you heard a word I’ve said, little one?”

“Sixty percent,” I admitted, looking to the city again. “Sorry.”

“No blame here. What do you need?”

“Nothing.” I pushed my nose into his soft blue shirt, enjoying the pleasured sound he made in response. “Just wondering if I’m ever going to be allowed to leave this hill again.”

“I think it’s honorable that you’re trying to do what your dad wants.” Bram’s cool hands moved about my waist, and before I knew it he’d drawn me up and seated me atop his chest so he could meet my eyes. I smiled despite myself, my fingers curling around his leather suspenders. I loved that he refused to dress like a New Victorian fop. “That biter kind of threw a wrench in the works. Once Dr. Dearly and the other researchers know more, we might be able to get back on track.”

“I hope so.” I glowered at my far-­off book. “We were on the same page before the riot. The turn he’s taken these last few weeks, insisting I stay close to the EF, focus on schoolwork—­it’s infuriating. And he hasn’t been home in days. I could’ve walked to Morristown and back without his ever having known.”

Bram reached up to play with my ringlets. I wasn’t wearing a hat or gloves—­more sins to stack up. “Chin up. It’s because of him that the living and the dead even have the chance to try and co-­exist. He’s naturally going to feel responsible for every setback. There’ll be more issues before all is said and done . . . more violence. I don’t accept that, but at the same time, I know it’s bound to happen. If we can just get more of the living vaccinated, educated, maybe things will calm down all around.” He frowned. “Maybe the violence against the undead will stop.”

Nodding, I thought of the high-­functioning zombies still hounded in the streets, still in hiding. They had it far worse than we did. “That’s why I hate being kept here. I want to be out in the city, helping them.”

“Believe me, I’m with you on that. But the last thing the city needs is a bunch of undead vigilantes skulking about. Or pro-­undead, in your case, seeing as I know you’d want to be at the head of the charge.”

This idea appealed to me. “Explain exactly why we’re not doing this, again?”

Bram chuckled, and leaned up to press his forehead to mine. “The sun’s rising.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re also a vampire. That would break my heart.” It was a stupid joke—­vampires weren’t real—­but I didn’t want to go back.

“Nope, just a guy biting his thumb at all the New Victorian ‘don’t touch the girl’ rules. Darkness helps with that.”

I sighed. “I know.”

Bram moved me, stood, and offered his hand. I took it and let him pull me to my feet. We made our way across the breadth of the hill to fetch my digidiary, then started the trek back.

Arm in arm.

***

Coming home just wasn’t the same anymore.

The Elysian Fields had been, at one time, a wonder of modern engineering. An underground neighborhood with multiple levels, each capped by a liquid crystal screen that mirrored conditions outside and surrounded by walls that projected virtual trees, clouds—­everything designed to look as real as possible, with none of it real at all.

Given that it had served as a giant crucible of infection for the zombies that invaded New London, it hadn’t fared very well. The fake sky was no more, the screen dark. Strings of electric lights now dangled from the streetlamp poles, the city’s attempt to provide the few residents of the Elysian Fields enough light to live by until it was repaired. Half the grand Victorian houses were unoccupied. Only the most basic services had returned to the central commercial area—­the grocery, the clinic. The hat shop was gone, the confectioner’s boarded up like something out of a five-­year-­old’s worst nightmare. Broadsides were pasted on every suitable surface: the elysian fields will resume full operations by fall 2196. the city of new london thanks you for your patience and support. Signs announced stops for the new trackless EF trolley service: a safe, dependable way to reach the surface and new london.

My Aunt Gene had once called the EF a “hole in the ground.” It actually seemed like one now. Too bad she was still missing; she would’ve loved to rub that in.

And yet, I loved it more than ever. I loved my neighborhood of Violet Hill, even though the streets were now stained—­with what, I didn’t like to imagine—­and many of the mansions beyond repair. I loved my brick house most of all, especially because it had managed to weather the undead storm so miraculously. Within its walls I’d kissed my mother for the last time, before the disease my father then knew so little about both took her away and cruelly brought her back. I’d watched my father die there, little knowing he was bound to carry on after his heart stopped. In that house, I’d been attacked by Averne’s undead minions, and on the roof, I’d fought back and ended up in Bram’s arms. Not that I was initially thrilled to find myself there.

That thought made me smile. By the time I reached the front door and unlocked it, I was ready to stiff-­upper-­lip-­it for another day, soldier on.

“Qui...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

Lia Habel’s spellbinding mash-up of sweeping period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama rises to a whole new level of innovative storytelling with Dearly, Beloved.
 
A high-tech, post-apocalyptic society dressed in the trappings of an antique era isn’t New Victoria’s only contradiction. Ever since the outbreak of the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” turned thousands into the living dead, those with a heartbeat and those without one have been forced to coexist. But can a nation so drastically divided survive? Though some of its zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for living flesh, others can still speak, reason, and control their ravenous appetites. And at least one unlikely couple—privileged Nora Dearly and dashing zombie ex-soldier Bram Griswold—have found true love, despite their “differences.” Still, tensions continue to grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions. As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to turn into full-scale war, scientists—living and otherwise—desperately seek a cure. But their efforts, and Nora and Bram’s budding relationship, may be doomed when a whole new strain of “The Laz” appears—and the nation of New Victoria braces for the next wave of the apocalypse.

“A realistic and exciting world with a swoon-worthy romance . . . The plot is addictive, the characters well-rounded.”—RT Book Reviews
 
“Nora and Bram’s touching and tender relationship, with its emphasis on equality and living in the moment, feels particularly special.”—Publishers Weekly, on Dearly, Departed

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Description du livre Del Rey Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. État : New. 208 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lia Habel s spellbinding mash-up of sweeping period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama rises to a whole new level of innovative storytelling with Dearly, Beloved. A high-tech, post-apocalyptic society dressed in the trappings of an antique era isn t New Victoria s only contradiction. Ever since the outbreak of the mysterious plague known as The Laz turned thousands into the living dead, those with a heartbeat and those without one have been forced to coexist. But can a nation so drastically divided survive? Though some of its zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for living flesh, others can still speak, reason, and control their ravenous appetites. And at least one unlikely couple privileged Nora Dearly and dashing zombie ex-soldier Bram Griswold have found true love, despite their differences. Still, tensions continue to grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions. As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to turn into full-scale war, scientists living and otherwise desperately seek a cure. But their efforts, and Nora and Bram s budding relationship, may be doomed when a whole new strain of The Laz appears and the nation of New Victoria braces for the next wave of the apocalypse. A realistic and exciting world with a swoon-worthy romance . . . The plot is addictive, the characters well-rounded. RT Book Reviews Nora and Bram s touching and tender relationship, with its emphasis on equality and living in the moment, feels particularly special. Publishers Weekly, on Dearly, Departed. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780345523358

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