Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First Amazon Reviews Go Up! Both Sides of the Puddle!

Joe McKinney, author of Dead City, on

Jonah Caine is alone in a world overrun by the living dead. He takes his meals where he can and sleeps with one eye open. The post-apocalyptic world around him seems devoid of meaning, his survival pointless. But then he wanders into the welcoming arms of an organized group of survivors who have turned a museum into a paramilitary compound. While there, he meets Jack, the compound's military manager, for lack of a better word, and Milton, a prophet, of sorts, with a certain influence in the world of the dead. While assimilating to the compound's culture, Jonah Caine falls into a war with another group of survivors, and the struggle defines a new moral landscape for this post-apocalyptic world. Paffenroth, the author of Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Vision of Hell on Earth, does several things very well in Dying to Live, his first novel. First of all, the action is wonderfully maintained. He continually escalates the dangers his characters face, which goes a long ways towards sustaining the reader's interest. Secondly, the details of his post-apocalyptic world are exceptionally well drawn. This is not an easy thing to do. Cormac McCarthy did it quite well in The Road. Stephen King did it equally well in The Gunslinger. Paffenroth's world is drawn on that level. Thirdly, this is one hell of an intelligent book. The writing is superb, and richly loaded with references as varied as the Bible, Paradise Lost, and American pop culture. Dying to Live is wonderful first novel. Check it out!

And Sarah Hapgood, over at

Jonah is cut adrift in the world, living by his wits, trying to avoid being attacked by the walking dead who have risen up to bite and infect the living. He has lost his family, and civilisation has crumbled around him. He makes his way to a ravaged city, and there is taken in by a community of survivors who have holed up in a large museum by the river. Of course all this sounds very familiar (zombie horror is usually great stuff, but there's a limit to how many variations on it you can do!), but the author makes this a cut-above by creating resourceful, well-rounded characters, and by not being afraid to show his own intelligence. In "Dying To Live" the main characters haven't lost touch with their humanity, even though they've witnessed horror beyond belief, such as Tanya, who had no choice but to wall up her own children in their bedroom when they became infected. Some of the relgious symbolism I could have done without (comparing Milton, the commune leader, to Jesus for example), but this doesn't detract from the story at all, and it's refreshingly differeent to have a post-apocalyptic story that gives hope for the human race. I would also have liked a bit more of how it all started though. Jonah was on a ship when the epidemic broke out, and they arrive at land to find the world has ended. (But perhaps this is a separate story, a sort of prequel, who knows?). All in all though, I'm always pleased to find an author who treats fans of zombie horror as if they've actually got some intelligence for once. Recommended.

Wow. And this before the "official" release date. I'm thrilled.


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