A bit of a warning to the buyer: This is a religious book by a professor of religious studies who has an interest in writing about zombies from a religious perspective. I found it heavy-handed. Others have not been bothered by it in the least.
I want to add that there are some people who didn't even pick up on the religious material. This surprises me (a lot), but maybe I've become out of touch with the level of religious understanding in the average reader (not that zombie fiction seems to be for the average reader). There is a lot of good to enjoy in the book - but the word God is on every fourth page, and there are some bizarre choices that read like C.S. Lewis without the subtlety.
I'm surprised at the appeal expressed on Amazon for the book - and a little suspicious that at least some of that praise may come from the author's peers (religious academics) who seem interested in an alternative horror market, for christian readers. Not that there is anything wrong with that - I just think it should be advertised as such.
compared to the likes of Brian Keane this guy is an amature at best. If you are new to zombies and dont want tOo much gore or action. Read him. May be a bit too fluffy for us zombie pros..also didnt notice any emphasis at all on christianity although this author is classified as a "christian fiction" writer.
rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an excellent zombie read for Horror month!
I was curious when I ran across a review for this book that stated that it was Christian Fiction but I now see where that comes from. While this book takes us on a very scary journey into a world overrun with undead zombies, there is a lot of theological references. It creates a very thought provoking read that I totally enjoyed.
This really is one of the scariest Apocalypse/Zombie books that I have read, because I found myself imagining exactly what a world overrun by the undead would be like. This book really makes it more real than others that I have read, thus making it very scary.
The comparison of human evil versus undead evil that we encounter at the end of the book is very insightful and thought provoking. We hear about horrors everyday that are often worse that what this author has created with his undead, but we are so accustomed to hearing about it that we have almost lost our ability to be horrified by them.
All in all this was an excellent read and I am very much looking forward to the sequel -- Dying to Live: Life Sentence -- as soon as I can get my hands on it!
Dying to Live is Kim Paffenroth's first novel and quite an outstanding first attempt. The story follows Jonah Caine who is the all-in-one underdog, hero, and saint. Wandering, alone, across the apocalyptic terrain Jonah eventually joins up with a group that has holed up in a museum. The group is lead by Milton, who the rest of the group looks up to as some sort of messiah. Jack, on the other hand is tactical and logistical leader of the group. From their first meeting, Jonah and the museum folks fight the undead and other evil in the world just to have a merger existence.
Dying to Live is by no means a simple zombie bash. No, it also takes a page from Paffenroth's Gospel of The Dead and is very much an examination of humanity. Many comparisons are made between the living and undead. This quote (taken from memory, so I hope it is correct) "We are not evil, just dumb and clumsy" highlights this aspect of the book. The living, just like the unliving, are prone to be dumb and clumsy. Often Jonah struggles with killing the zombies, as he still identifies with them. He also observes that in many ways that the living are much more cruel than the dead.
Also, those who read the biblical story of Jonah & the novel Moby-Dick will see some familiar ideas. For instance the beginning of the book will surely remind you of Moby-Dick, while later; the story of Jonah is invoked.
While Dying to Live is the most intellectually stimulating zombie novel I have ever read, fear not, there is plenty of action, gore, and fright to go around. There are some very well described combat sequences, some downright frightening parts, and one particular scene during Frank's story that will both make you sick to your stomach and scare the crap out of you.
Dying to Live is an absolute great piece of writing that will both stimulate your mind and deliver the action and gore that we all love so much. With this book Kim Paffenroth shows that there is more to zombie fiction than eating flesh and killing with head shots. Dying to Live is a welcome break from the typical zombie book and the new favorite on the top of my list.
It has almost been a year since the Apocalypse stroke as flesh eating zombies.
Those who survived hide behind barricades, those who don't have a hiding place became killing machines, avoiding towns and the night. The incurious zombies rarely look up so a higher platform to sleep on almost seems like a piece of heaven for one night.
Jonah is one of those who came to find his family without success. Since then he adapted to survival on the street and learnt how to keep the zombies at bay.
Rescued from a dangerous situation Jonah is taken in by a larger group of survivors. Protected by a huge river and the museums gates they built up a small community with new but mostly humane rules. Their leader Milton is a "half-infected" who wasn't bitten by a zombie but by zombie rodents that were used for testing the disease.
With his bright character Milton dreams of rebuilding society within their gates where food and security can be taken for granted.
It is a long way the community has to go to archive the goal piece by piece. Jonah is an asset to the community as well as ex-military Jack, his girl-friend Sarah, ex dental-hygienist turned into doctor and Tanya as well as young "Popcorn" who don't feel fear but lots of rage.
In their quest to find more survivors Jonah, Tanya and Popcorn are taken hostage by ex-prisoners who survived in their prison by eating venison and rotten peaches. There is only one person who can rescue them out of this situation but does he value the safety of the community more than the lives of three community members ?
Dying to Live is a bit like the common zombie book with some nice add-ons. It is intellectual not only because the author used Dante and Shakespeare but also uses them in his dialogues between Jonah and Milton.
What I liked about Dying to Live is that is was approachable and humane. Pfaffenroth looks behind what happened and looks up to the future without resting on the common goal of building up a new society with empty phrases. He asks for the why more than once and he delivers.
I read the book in one day and picked up its continuation Dying to Live: Life Sentence up directly after closing the novel.
David Wellington was right to to say Dying to Live is a thinking man's zombie novel.
I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness of this zombie novel along with the action and survival aspects of it.
I noticed that several reviewers commented that Paffenroth put too much Christian theology in his book. There were several references to the bible but I felt there were just as many references to classical literature (ex.: Dante's Inferno, Shakespeare). Some people will recognize some admittedly odd parallels and symbolism but I think other people probably won't notice these parts as anything special. So, if you haven't read it, don't be afraid that the book will be preachy--the biblical references seemed literary and, while God is often mentioned, the tone is philosophical not preaching. IMO this is realistic--if there were a zombipocalypse, many people would naturally question the existence of God in the face of such horrors. But if you are such a devout atheist that the thought of other people believing in God irritates you, then I would say that you may want to pass on this book.
It may be the contemplative tone of the book that disappoints some readers who expected the book to be all adrenalin, horror and gore, but I appreciate that part most. Dying to Live has all the skull-crunching, limb-severing mayhem that I love. What is different about this book is that, after a character narrowly misses being bitten and takes off a zombie's head with a baseball bat, sometimes he thinks about the people they were before they became a zombie and what happened to them rather than immediately charging off to kill the next one. So instead he takes the time to say "I'm sorry this happened to you." Also, characters in the book, when they aren't struggling to stay alive, try to make sense out of what it all means. For me this rings true because I would probably think the same way in that situation