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Dying to Live: Life Sentence [Paperback]

Kim Paffenroth
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 10.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Oct 2008
At the end of the world a handful of survivors banded together in a museum-turned-compound surrounded by the living dead. The community established rituals and rites of passage, customs to keep themselves sane, to help them integrate into their new existence. In a battle against a kingdom of savage prisoners, the survivors lost loved ones, they lost innocence, but still they coped and grew. They even found a strange peace with the undead. Twelve years later the community has reclaimed more of the city and has settled into a fairly secure life in their compound. Zoey is a girl coming of age in this undead world, learning new roles-new sacrifices. But even bigger surprises lie in wait, for some of the walking dead are beginning to remember who they are, whom they've lost, and, even worse, what they've done. As the dead struggle to reclaim their lives, as the survivors combat an intruding force, the two groups accelerate toward a collision that could drastically alter both of their worlds.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Permuted Press (15 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934861111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934861110
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 949,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book 18 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good zombie book, not as good as the first but still very good. Hardly got any sleep due to picking the book up after work and not being able to put it down
Must read for any zombie fan
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good.. But.. 5 Mar 2010
I like the "standard" zombiebooks where something goes horribly wrong and the books starts with people in all sorts of situations trying to stay alive. Which is also what this book is about, but it tries way too hard (at the start) to walk a more "intelligent" path and ends up being just thesame. The book switches every chapter between the people inside the camp (read the first book first if you don't know what I mean) and a situation where some zombies are being followed that actually have the capacity to think and interact. I've mostly skipped the "camp" parts because they were so "reminiscing" and just read the interesting (in my opinion) chapters of the zombies that could think. How peculiar that might sound, zombies that can think and have faint memories of the life they led, it is really well written. Halfway through the book it starts to get really good in both chapters and it ends up to be almost as good as the first book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel to a zombie classic 28 Mar 2009
With Dying to Live, Kim Paffenroth set a new standard for zombie fiction; with Life Sentence he has moved the goal posts again and given us another fresh approach to the genre. Set 12 years after the original and told through the eyes of two characters that were but baby and child when the original horror unfolded...oh, and there's the point of view from the zombies' side of the fence - but more on that in a minute. Our heroes and heroines from the first book are present, but they take a back seat to the next generation in this novel. With most of the zombies herded up and safely behind fences the community has grown and moved beyond the walls of the museum and started to build something of a life for themselves. Much of the story follows community life through the eyes of twelve year old Zoey who has only ever known life as it is now and struggles to understand what came before: were people then worse than the zombies now?

As for the zombies, well a couple of them have retained some memory and motor skills that are not normally associated with the un-dead. Normally, I am not a fan of this approach and was somewhat apprehensive when I started the first chapter featuring Trueman, a zombie that can think and communicate with the humans. But as his character developed I became very fond of him and pitied his situation as he tried to make sense of what he has become; he knows that he is different but quite make out how or why. Shame on me for doubting Paffenroth for even a minute!

In truth, compared to the first book, not a great deal happens in Life Sentence but it is still an engrossing read. It's a bit like dropping in on some old friends to catch up on all the gossip. This is not so much about the zombies themselves but more the world the affliction has left behind and how our survivors have evolved.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mince 6 Aug 2009
Ive read loads of zombie books some fantastic others really good,but this one was torture to read I had to force myself to finish it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dr. Strikes Again 30 Jan 2009
By Nick Cato - Published on Amazon.com
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. The self-control displayed by Wade could have been a quick rip-off of "Bub" from Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD, but being this is a novel, we get to see what's going on inside this unique zombies' mind, and its more caring and understanding than most of the human survivors. (Speaking of DAY, there's one group of sleaze balls who try to ruin the party before human and zombie team up to stop them; their leader's name is Rhodes, which I'm sure is in tribute to Romero).

My only gripe is I wanted to see more of the work done by Milton, who was the driving force behind the first novel. Hopefully, if Paffenroth returns with another DYING TO LIVE, he'll go there.

Any horror fan will enjoy LIFE SENTENCE, especially those with a thing for zombies. The author's unique perspective on a post-apocalyptic, undead world puts this--like its predecessor--in its own league.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far above average in every respect! 29 Jan 2009
By Adam Groves - Published on Amazon.com
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. The apocalyptic milieu is convincingly evoked with oft-disturbing realism, and the central characters are strong and three-dimensional. I don't believe (as a back cover blurb states) the book will entirely satisfy gore fans, but it is ideal for readers wanting more from their zombie fiction than flesh ripping and intestine pulling.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent novel, not just for Genre fans. 12 Feb 2010
By Leonard Buccellato - Published on Amazon.com
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fell Just Short of the Original 7 Dec 2009
By L. Penny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Kim Paffenroth's first book, Dying to Live: A Novel of Live among the Undead; however, his follow up book did not quite capture me in the same way. I felt that I was split in that I was deeply enraptured by the subplot surrounding Wade, but I was much less enthused in reading about Zoey. Clearly this is a matter of perspective as the vast majority of readers seem to thoroughly enjoy the whole story.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly enjoyable 4 Nov 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Having read and loved the first installment of Dying to Live, I have to say that the only reason I'm giving this book four stars instead of five is because I REALLY loved the first book, if only because I tend to be interested more in the initial response to a zombie apocalypse, seeing how people react in the early days (I.e. less gore and zombie mayhem in this book). This book is set some dozen years after the initial outbreak, and from a different character's perspective, and I was immediately sucked into how a community evolves into a new world. Without giving too much away, let's just say that there are some unorthodox ways of dealing with the undead, but not entirely unrealistic, and the real threat still seems to be the survivors, not the zombies. Also, the story focuses on the "evolution" of certain zombies, which normally I would totally hate (being someone who believes that the undead are only here to eat our flesh), but ended up being my favorite part of the story. I can't wait for the third installment, hope there is one! BTW, those of you who are looking for a real solid talent in the zombie genre, keep this author's name in mind, so far he's one of the best I've come across, and believe me there is some real CRAP out there.
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