Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Amazon Review!

I haven't been keeping up with all of them, but this is a very nice one by fellow Permuted Press author Dave Dunwoody:

Going into DYING TO LIVE with the knowledge that its author is a theologian with a rich, well-read imagination, it was difficult not to pick out the many allegories and allusions in the book, and to consider the story's deeper implications. But this didn't at all detract from the gripping thrill ride that the novel is. A lot of reviewers have already called DYING TO LIVE a thinking man's zombie novel, and it is, but it's packed with as much viscera and action as it is philosophy.

Many of the horrors described in the story - set about a year after a zombie apocalypse - are experienced in hindsight as memories recalled by the different characters, who explain how they came to exist in the new world carved out by the undead plague. In this way, a lot of these stories are told sort of like parables, though Paffenroth doesn't thrust any firm conclusions in your face when he asks his questions about human nature. Rather, he allows the characters to wonder at open-ended mysteries along with the reader. The story's messianic figure, Milton, is not a definitive answer to the world's problems, but a reluctant messiah who actually raises more questions than anyone else and has little understanding of his ability to strike fear into the undead.

But again, there's so much action-horror to be had that the book doesn't ever get lost in its thinking side. The narrator, Jonah Caine, and his newfound friends go up against plenty of nasty zombies as well as nasty humans, and the brutality visited upon protagonists and antagonists alike is unflinching. Paffenroth pulls off some of the most disgusting, horrifying imagery in any zombie tale I've read, and without any tendency toward shock value. It just is what it is.

In the end, various characters are just beginning to understand their roles in the new world. In particular, Milton's perception of himself and the undead is fascinating but I don't want to spoil anything. READ THIS BOOK and trust that you'll never encounter a bump on the long, gory ride. There's a lot of room for a sequel here, but the story still has a feeling of completeness and invites a lot of reflection. That'll give your brain something to chew on until the sequel (with its own variety of brain-chewers) does come along, which I hope is sooner rather than later.


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