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Dying to Live: Life Sentence Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The last twenty pages of the story are climactic and suddenly, the reader wants more story, more explanation, but Paffenroth states his arguments for humanity's unwillingness, or inability, to look past life-ending calamity and continue with petty barbarism.
Paffenroth creates a sense that the dead are more noble than the living, as the zombies have simple needs never based on rape, murder, destruction, but simpler, seemingly nobler instincts, to feed and move on. There is a sort of acceptance of this new reality when Blue Eye eats one of the raiders who attacks a farm that Zoey is staying at. The sense of justice in that scene is unescapable. Bearing in mind that Paffenroth is a professor of religious studies, there is almost a sense of divine justice, via the zombies, reminding the reader that the living are never far away from joining the zombie horde.
Both books represent a series of biblical allegories, critical of the human state, but deeply introspective. At every turn of the page, a character is always being challenged to make moral decisions with every action carrying a consequence.
Violence, responsiblity and consequence are themes throughout the story. Readers who enjoy hacker/slasher and blood/gore will be disappointed. Paffenroth creates a world that challenges sensibilities and urges the reader to contemplate life and personal action in the context of apocalypse.
Let's hope that Paffenroth has a follow up to Life Sentence: the book is that good!
Zoey's character just didn't capture my interest in the same way as the first novel held you rapt with Jonah and Milton. There was something in her thoughts and feelings that seemed a bit hollow or missing, and that lead me to be less interested in her story, especially in comparison to Wade.
Still, in the story of Wade Truman, the thoughtful zombie, Paffenroth crosses a line that hasn't been broached since Romero with his character "Bub" in Day of the Dead. Paffenroth explores the mind and feelings of the zombie. He pulls the reader in to see them in a different light, and in doing so, he confuses those seemingly clear lines between "good" and "evil". I still wish to read more about the story of Wade and Blue Eye. I feel that the story with them wasn't over, and I'd love to see it continue.
Despite my mixed review, I'd still recommend the book, particularly for individuals already familiar with Paffenroth's take on the zombie apocalypse. He continues to twist the traditional zombie template to hold the reader's attention and stir them to think in a genre that doesn't always command that.
DYING TO LIVE: LIFE SENTENCE is a very good read. The re-introduction of characters that were featured prominently in the first book was well-done, spelling things out for those of us that hadn't read it in a while, or even read the original. I enjoyed the revolving first-person narrative employed here, even if one of the perpspectives kind of threw me off just a bit at first. The way that the two narratives progressed until they met near the last third of the book was well thought out and well executed.
The novel is more than the typical zombie book fare, with more than just a group of survivors stuck in a shopping mall (or whatever) and their cardboard cutout reactions that you see so often in the genre. Kim Paffenroth has the tools and talent to see his vision through, past the inevitable end of all things to the gory new beginning. In particular, the way he got into the head of characters that have only known the World After (and their perception of people that knew the World Before) was done with grace.
I'm looking forward to the third book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Truman, The undead philosophy professor, is clearly Dr. Paffenroth’s “Mary Sue” character.Read more