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Dying to Live: Life Sentence Paperback – March 7, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Dying to Live Series

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Editorial Reviews


A thinking man's zombie novel. Paffenroth has looked beyond the initial bloodshed to what happens after the end of the world. He explores deep philosophical issues while never letting the horror fan go hungry for gore. --David Wellington, author of MONSTER ISLAND
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Permuted Press; First Printing edition (March 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934861111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934861110
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a graduate of St John's College, Annapolis (1988), Harvard Divinity School (1990), and the University of Notre Dame (1995). I work at Iona College. I am married with two wonderful children. I am blessed to be able to write about the things that interest me and share my ideas with others.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After the author's impressive debut novel, DYING TO LIVE, I couldn't wait to get my hands on its sequel (but was prevented from getting to it sooner due to my ever expanding TBR pile).

LIFE SENTENCE picks up 12 years after the events of DTL. This time our survivors have cleared and fenced themselves into a large area just outside of a major city. The groups' spiritual leader, Milton, continues to use his supernatural gift to horde the undead into holding bins; the aggressive ones go to one area, the seemingly less aggressive to another. When Milton's protégé, Will, notices two zombies in the latter area behaving almost like "normal" humans, he soon befriends them.

Most of the novel is told from one of the intelligent zombies' viewpoint (we discover his name is Wade Truman, a former college professor who is slowly trying to remember his past life, and whose notes we're now reading). He meets an undead woman named Lucy, and together they spend their days and nights writing, reading, and playing the violin (but trust me . . . this isn't funny or cheesy in the least; Paffenroth truly develops his zombies as much as his human characters).

The second storyline the novel follows is Zoey, a teenage outcast who agrees to take her "vows" to the community. She's as deadly with a gun as she is with her wit, and eventually Will and her situations meet for a finale that's exciting, scary, and best of all, a HUGE cut above your standard zombie fare.

Paffenroth continues to explore zombies from a philosophical angle, this time bringing out the humanity of his two intelligent monsters: neither of them want to eat the living, despite it being a newfound instinct.
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Format: Paperback
This is a sequel to Paffenroth's 2007 novel DYING TO LIVE. I haven't read that book but had no trouble getting into LIFE SENTENCE, as its subject matter was familiar to me from the films that inspired it. The author has written a book on the cinema of George Romero (2006's GOSPEL OF THE LIVING DEAD) and clearly knows the territory inside and out.
Yet Paffenroth has used his Romero-filched elements in thoughtful and literate fashion. There is the requisite gore, of course, and quite a few nerdy movie references (including a store named Argento and a play on the classic ALIENS line about "real monsters") but the book's true aims are strictly of the philosophical variety.
The setting is a world where the living dead rule and a band of non-zombified people subside in an abandoned museum. The two main characters are Zoey, a pre-teen coming to terms with life in this nightmare world, and Truman, an "evolved" zombie who was once a university professor. In his current state Truman's memories are all-but nonexistent, forcing him to relearn everything; as his curiosity about himself and the world around him grows, Truman finds himself rejecting the anti-social activities of his fellow deaders. Along the way he connects with a fellow zombie named Lucy, and love (of a sort) blossoms.
In the meantime Zoey is maturing into a full-fledged zombie killer, having undergone an intricate initiation ceremony. She and Truman mirror each other in their inquisitiveness about the world around them, and before long Zoey, Truman and Lucy will meet...with unexpected results. The conclusion is (in keeping with the novel's overall tone) thoughtful and contemplative, playing down the expected mayhem in favor of a deeply felt, hard-won humanity.
From a writing standpoint the novel is impeccable.
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Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift from a friend who didn't realize that this was the continuation of Dying to Live!
It did not affect my immersion into Mr. Paffenroth's world in the least and that is testament to the skill with which he so completely creates his world. His characters are multidimensional, especially his Intelligent Zombies. In fact we fear them all the more since their strong connection to we humans is made all the more apparent by our shared lust for blood. (this becomes evident during a battle late in the book with some marauding, bloodthirsty bandits).
This book has been lauded as a Thinking Man's Zombie book and it is that but it is also much more. Mr. Paffenroth wants us to see the Undead as part of the circle of life, inextricably tied to us and necessary for our evolution. Just as the young Zoey must evolve through the Rites of Passage in order to become accepted in her society, so to must the remaining humans at the end of his book, evolve and rise above their lust for murder or perish. This was an excellent horror book with all the gore and terror elements sure to please any Zombie aficionado! Buy it and enjoy it!
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Dying to Live: Life Sentence

Paffenroth's thought-provoking follow up to Dying To Live: A Novel of Live Among the Undead, summarizes the two-part epic journey that begins with Jonah Caine. In Life Sentence, we meet Zoey, one of a group of children, the first generation of children, to be born to the zombie infested world, daughter of Jack, whom we meet in the first novel. 12 years later after the first novel ends, Zoey's world of survival involves a relatively secure area where the survivors can live with less fear of zombie attacks.

Throughout the novel, Zoey documents much of the survivor's daily trials and tribulations, but gradually, she spends more time documenting Will, who originally appeared in the first novel as Popcorn. Will has discovered that a few of the zombies, whom the survivors no longer kill, but keep in captivity, can communicate with the living, and they also start to recall fleeting memories of their past lives.

Will befriends two of the zombies and begins to spend time with them outside of their prison. But these excursions eventually lead to deadly encounters that changes life, and the future, for Zoey and the other survivors.

Paffenfroth's juxtaposition of living vs. zombie is a series of lamentations, expressed through Truman's, one of the zombies, typewritten notes. He wonders why the living are so scared of the zombies when he witnesses acts of brutality committed by the living against each other. Truman is horrified by the actions he witnesses, and expresses fear of the living.
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